Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dover Castle from Shakespeare Cliff


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 257 × 178 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCII 18

Display caption

This sketchbook, which Turner seems to have used around 1822 in conjunction with a journey along the southern coast of England, contains twenty-two watercolour studies similar to this opening. This subject is a preparatory stage in the design of a watercolour of Dover engraved in May 1826 as the penultimate plate for the 'Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England'.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Alexander Finberg and Turner scholar Andrew Wilton have exhibited this watercolour as a study for the Ports of England view of Scarborough (Tate D18142; Turner Bequest CCVIII I), where it is in fact a view of Dover.1 Along with the colour sketch on folio 13 (Tate D17732; Turner Bequest CCII 13), Ian Warrell writes that this drawing formed the basis of the design of the penultimate plate of the 1826 Southern Coast series (for a list of Tate impressions see folio 13).2
The viewpoint is the earthworks below Shakespeare Cliff. The castle atop the headland, bathed in a radiant morning light, is defined chiefly by blue shadow. Turner has applied multiple layers of translucent wash, which blend in gentle gradations and lend a prismatic, hazy effect.
Wilton 1979, p.387, no.751.
Warrell 1991, p.35, no.17.
Inscribed in pencil ‘CCII–18’ bottom centre and again in a different hand towards bottom left.

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2013

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