Joseph Mallord William Turner

Clovelly Harbour


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 139 × 215 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXV a 43

Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes has noted this sketch as a source for the watercolour Clovelly Bay of about 1822 (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin),1 engraved in 1824 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England (see the concordance of the series in the 1811 tour introduction). He also lists the drawings on folios 44 recto, 45 recto, 64 recto and 65 recto (D41323, D41324, D41346, D41347), and one in the contemporary Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate D08766; Turner Bequest CXXIII 223).2 The latter defines the overall composition, complete with foreground cliffs and donkeys, while the studies in the present book provide supplementary details of the village and coastline. There are further views on folios 88 recto and 90 recto (D41370, D41373), and an inscription which appears to mention Clovelly on folio 3 recto (D41278), although its relevance to the sketch on that page is uncertain.
In the present drawing Clovelly Harbour is seen to the north-west along the beach. There appears to be a horse or donkey and cart in front of the beached sailing boat nearest the pier. The village is shown from a similar angle in the watercolour, but from much further away in a wider setting. Because of limited, precipitous access from inland, Clovelly remains relatively unchanged, and many of the buildings are still recognisable.
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 ‘Clovelly’ in a manuscript listing,3 while C.F. Bell described it in his own notes as ‘Fishing-village in rocky cove’.4 Figures usually corresponding to Finberg’s MS catalogue page numbers, which differ from Bell’s sequence, are inscribed on the verso of most sheets.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.354 no.472, reproduced.
Shanes 1981, p.152.
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.356, as CXXV(a) 77.
C.F. Bell, MS addenda, [after 1928], tipped into a copy of Finberg 1909, vol.I, p.356B, as CXXVa 43.
Technical notes:
There is some rubbing or offsetting towards the bottom of the page. The sheet is slightly wrinkled, possibly as a result of exposure to damp.
Blank, save for inscription by Edwin Fagg in pencil ‘178 | 77’ bottom right. There are glue stains at the corners of the sheet, and some rubbing or offsetting.

Matthew Imms
July 2011

Read full Catalogue entry


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