Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dartmouth and Kingswear from Above Town


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 75 × 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 239

Catalogue entry

Turner’s viewpoint is the aptly named Above Town, a narrow lane running south from the centre of Dartmouth high on the steep slopes of the Dart Estuary’s west bank, looking east to Kingswear and south-east to Dartmouth Castle. It is not now possible to determine the exact spot as the foreground is so sketchy and some of the houses are later, but the precipitous views over the gardens below to the left and steep embankments supporting houses above to the right remain characteristic, and the estuary can be seen from various points. The sketch is the source of the 1822 watercolour Dartmouth, on the River Dart (Tate D18136; Turner Bequest CCVIII C),1 engraved in 1825 for The Rivers of England, where the foreground is much elaborated.
This drawing has been linked2 with the untraced watercolour Dartmouth, Devon,3 engraved in 1815 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England, which he dates to about 18114 (see the concordance of the series in the 1811 tour introduction). However, that composition shows a quay immediately beside the River Dart, whereas the present drawing was made from high above the shore, albeit showing the castle and Kingswear, which could have informed the design. The direct source for the Southern Coast design is rather the drawing on folio 106 recto (D08564; CXXIII 103).
For other Dartmouth views in this sketchbook and elsewhere, see under folio 3 recto (D08366).

Matthew Imms
June 2011

Wilton 1979, p.385 no.739, reproduced.
Shanes 1981, p.152.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.351 no.453, as circa 1814.
Shanes 1981, p.45 no.105.

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