Joseph Mallord William Turner

Coastal Views of France and Kent


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 187 × 113 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 77 a

Catalogue entry

Turner uses this page to transcribe four illustrations from The Little Sea Torch, an illustrated maritime text by Richard Bougard, translated from the French by J.T. Serres and published in London in 1801.1 For more detailed information about the publication, and an interrogation of Turner’s use of it, see the Introduction to this sketchbook. For a comprehensive list of the other pages used for the same purpose, see the entry for folio 55 recto (D17296).
Finberg’s identification of ‘Several views of coast, from the Channel’ is correct, and adequately summarises the viewpoints adopted in each of the sketches.2 Made with the page turned vertically, the first drawing at the top of the sheet takes as its subject an engraving from plate 2 of The Little Sea Torch, entitled ‘Bertheaume Castle, bearing E.N.E with a Frigate lying in the Road.’3 Fort de Bertheaume is one of a series of coastal defences designed to protect the entrance to Brest harbour in Brittany in northwestern France.4 It sits atop a small island 100 metres from the shore. Here Turner fastidiously transcribes part of the original composition, including the mainland on the left and the island with castle and French flag blowing in the wind towards the left. In a demonstration of the dark hue applied to the engraving in the printed source, Turner shades the rocky outcrops with broad, hatched lines. He omits the Frigate warship which is on the far right in the original picture.
Further down the page, beneath an unfortunately ambiguous inscription, is a second coastal view taken from plate 2 of The Little Sea Torch. The original is the ninth engraving on that page, directly beneath the illustration of Fort de Bertheaume, and is described as ‘The Entrance of Brest Harbour E.½ S.’5 Turner copies the full scope of this image, from Le Grand Minou at far left (labelled in the original text ‘Pt. de Grand Menou’), to Le Petit Minou towards the centre on the left (labelled ‘Pettit Menou’ in the original source), and finishing at Camaret-sur-Mer on the right (‘Pt. de Cameret’ in the printed book). Turner only briefly indicates a row of battleships stretched across the water in between the two headlands, which are elaborated to a much greater degree in the engraving.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Richard Bougard, The Little Sea Torch: or, True Guide for Coasting Pilots: by which they are clearly instructed how to navigate along the coasts of Malta, Corsica, Sardinia, and others in the Straits; and of The Coast of Barbary, from Cape Bon to Cape de Verd, trans. with corrections and additions by John Thomas Serres, London 1801. For an online and PDF facsimile, see ‘The Little Sea Torch’, accessed 26 October 2015, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal,
Finberg 1909, I, p.606.
Plate 2, The Little Sea Torch, accessed 18 November 2015,
‘Fort de Bertheaume’, Fortified Places, accessed 18 November 2015,
Plate 2, The Little Sea Torch.
‘Plate 3’, The Little Sea Torch, accessed 18 November 2015,

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