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
Chalk and pen and ink on paper
Support: 136 × 188 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLX 29

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 roughly indicated on the shore at the centre. Compare the 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). The harbour scene here is loosely comparable with that in the watercolour Cowes, Isle of Wight (private collection),2 engraved in 1830 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04556, T06086, T06087).
Although exhibited in the nineteenth century as an English subject, like several others in the present subsection this drawing was categorised in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory in one of the sections of works on blue paper ‘mostly connected with “French Rivers”’.3
See ‘About the Building’, Welcome to St Mary the Virgin Church, Cowes, accessed 15 December 2014,
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.395 no.818, reproduced.
See Finberg 1909, II, pp.806–13, CCLX, ‘Pencil and ink on blue paper: mostly connected with “French Rivers” series’, c.1830; but see Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.102, Warrell 1989, p.148 and Warrell 1999, pp.30, 253 note 84, linking this sheet to the Isle of Wight.
Technical notes:
There are signs of water damage where the ink has run within a regular area at the centre, apparently indicating that the edges of the sheet were protected by a mount at the time of the 1928 flood at the Tate Gallery.
Blank; inscribed in red ink ?by John Ruskin ‘535’ bottom left and in pencil ‘cclx 29’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop