Joseph Mallord William Turner

Cowes from the East; Yachts under Sail


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 192 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXVI 40 a

Catalogue entry

The drawings are inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation. At the top, the tall tower on the left is that of St Mary’s Church, Cowes, designed by Turner’s Isle of Wight architect host John Nash in 1816 (although all but the tower was rebuilt in 1867),1 with Cowes Castle on the shore at the right-hand end of the headland (see under folio 72 verso; D20708; Turner Bequest CCXXVI 69a); the viewpoint is across the River Medina from below Nash’s residence, East Cowes Castle (see under folio 1 verso; D20597).
The sketch has been identified as the basis of 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),3 although the wider prospect in the contemporary Cowes Regatta sketchbook (Tate D18028; Turner Bequest CCVII 21), extending to the left of the church, was perhaps the key source. Compare also the view from the Solent on folios 21 verso–22 recto (D20629–D20630; Turner Bequest CCXXVI 20a–21).
A yacht is shown at the mouth of the River Medina off the castle in the upper sketch, and the six craft shown across the middle of the page were probably observed on the same occasion. For more on studies in this sketchbook relating to the regatta events at Cowes from late July 1827 onwards, see the Introduction.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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 Shanes 1979, p.156, Joll 1994, p.[30] and Shanes 2000, p.205.

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