Joseph Mallord William Turner

Clovelly and the Coast of Barnstaple or Bideford Bay


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 140 × 215 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXV a 88

Catalogue entry

The view appears to be from Mount Pleasant, overlooking Clovelly, visible far below through the trees, and the Devon coast along Barnstable or Bideford Bay towards Buck’s Mills to the east. For other views in the area, see under folio 43 recto (D41322).
Suggesting that the drawing shows Lynmouth, a good way north-east round the North Devon coast, Eric Shanes has related it to a ‘colour beginning’ (Tate D25311; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 189) watermarked 1825, which he tentatively identifies as showing ‘Foreland Point and Lynmouth Bay from Lynton’,1 although he also suggests alternative French and Italian settings. Its resemblance to the present view is slight, and perhaps fortuitous; at the time of writing the colour sketch is designated a ‘Study of a Classical Landscape: ?Lake Maggiore’. For Turner’s views of Lynmouth and Lynton, see under Tate D08948 (Turner Bequest CXXVI 3) in the 1811 Somerset and North Devon sketchbook.
As discussed in the introduction, the pages of this ‘sketchbook’ appear to have originally been loose sheets, and are not recorded in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory of the Bequest, although he subsequently noted the subject correctly as ‘Coast near Clovelly’ in a manuscript listing,2 while C.F. Bell described it in his own notes as ‘Precipitous coast, houses in foreground’.3 Figures differing from Bell’s sequence are inscribed on the verso of most sheets; they usually correspond with the pagination given in Finberg’s MS catalogue, but here and in a few other cases the numbers do not match. As there are drawings on both sides of the present leaf (see also D41371), and this is the only such leaf otherwise unmatched, the uncertainty lies only in the minor issue of which drawing Finberg regarded as the recto and which the verso, as he gave the same title to each.
Shanes 1997, pp.94, 96.
A.J. Finberg, MS addenda, [circa 1928–39], tipped into a copy of his A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, opposite p.357, as CXXV(a) 81 or 81 Reverse.
C.F. Bell, MS addenda, [after 1928], tipped into a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, p.356C, as CXXVa 88.
Technical notes:
The sheet is slightly wrinkled, possibly as a result of exposure to damp. There is some dark rubbing or offsetting in the foreground of the drawing which matches that on the blank verso of folio 60 (D41341 being the recto), showing that the two sheets were once in contact.

Matthew Imms
July 2011

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