Joseph Mallord William Turner

Cliffs, Probably near Folkestone

c.1821–2

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 113 × 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17355
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 87

Catalogue entry

Made with the page inverted according to the foliation of the sketchbook, there are two drawings of coastal cliffs on this sheet, as identified by Finberg.1 Two different perspectives are described. The sketch at the bottom of the page looks up at the cliffs, presumably from sea level, taking in the looming slopes and craggy edges from below. Towards the left there seems to be a tower or building tentatively indicated atop the rocks.
Directly above this is a second sketch, this time describing an elevated viewpoint as Turner looks along the coastline from a somewhat more inland position. The drawing begins towards bottom left, and then forms a gentle diagonal across the page as it moves towards top right. Two architectural structures mark the coastal profile; one closer to the foreground, on the left, the other much more distant, on the right. Although they are both possibly defensive Martello towers, the more distant structure gives an impression of height, and its position overlooking a bay is reminiscent of the parish church in Folkestone, St Mary and St Eanswythe. The church is examined more definitively elsewhere in this sketchbook. For a list of these instances and further information on the structure, see the entry for folio 17 verso (D17235).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

1
Finberg 1909, I, p.606.

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