Joseph Mallord William Turner

Clovelly Harbour from the Pier


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 44

Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes has noted this sketch in connection with 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 43 recto, 45 recto, 64 recto and 65 recto (D41322, 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 Cornwall and Devon studies provide supplementary details of the village and coastline. For other views, see under folio 43 recto (D41322).
The present sketch is not directly related to the watercolour. It shows Clovelly’s waterfront to the south-west at low tide, from about half-way along the curving stone pier. On the shore on the far side there appear to be several of the donkeys used as transport in the precipitous village, while figures on the right may be drying or mending nets. Most of the buildings remain recognisable, including the small fortification just below the centre and the Red Lion with its dormer windows to the right. There is a more detailed view from further out along the pier on folio 45 recto (D41324).
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) 76.
C.F. Bell, MS addenda, [after 1928], tipped into a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, p.356B, as CXXVa 44.
Technical notes:
The sheet is slightly wrinkled, possibly as a result of exposure to damp.
Blank, save for inscription by Edwin Fagg in pencil ‘178 | 76’ bottom right. There are glue stains at the corners of the sheet, and some rubbing or offsetting.

Matthew Imms
July 2011

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