Joseph Mallord William Turner

Cowes and the Mouth of the River Medina from East Cowes


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, pen and ink and graphite on paper
Support: 143 × 200 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXVII a 16

Catalogue entry

The view is westwards from a quay at East Cowes (since much redeveloped) towards Cowes across the mouth of the River Medina, with St Mary’s Church, designed by Turner’s Isle of Wight architect host John Nash1 on the skyline and Cowes Castle on the shore at the centre right. This somewhat simplified and laterally compressed rendering should be compared with more precise pencil drawing in the contemporary Cowes Regatta and Windsor and Cowes, Isle of Wight sketchbooks (Tate D18028, D20662; Turner Bequest CCVII 21, CCXXVI 40a). See also Tate D24865 (Turner Bequest CCLX 29).

This is among dozens of blue paper studies presumably made in connection with regatta events in the late summer of 1827; see the Introduction to this subsection for other views across to Cowes. Finberg categorised this sheet and several others in a section mainly comprising ‘East Cowes Castle’ views2 distinguished by their use of ink outlines, having made a division between the Isle of Wight blue paper drawings using that medium and those in pencil and chalk, which he grouped as ‘Yachts, &c., at Cowes’;3 in the present subsection the latter have been augmented by those in ink of relevant subjects other than East Cowes Castle, which are dealt with separately.
See ‘About the Building’, Welcome to St Mary the Virgin Church, Cowes, accessed 15 December 2014,
Finberg 1909, II, pp.700–1, CCXXVII a 1–57.
Ibid., p.702, CCXXVIII 1–44.
Technical notes:
Although not immediately apparent, losses were sustained in the 1928 Tate Gallery flood, when ink was offset to a sheet laid over this one during the recovery process (Tate D40522).
Blank, save for slight ink offsetting, presumably from another drawing in this Isle of Wight sequence.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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