Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dover Castle with the English Channel Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 276 × 435 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 186

Catalogue entry

The subject of this ‘colour beginning’ was identified by Ian Warrell, as relating to a watercolour study among others of Dover (a perennial Turner subject) in the Ports of England sketchbook of around 1822 (Tate D17735; Turner Bequest CCII 16), showing the view south from north-west of the castle, looking over the town and harbour to the English Channel, with Shakespeare Cliff in the distance on the right.1 As Warrell notes,2 another colour study in the Ports of England sketchbook (Tate D17733; Turner Bequest CCII 14), relates to the watercolour Dover of about 1825 (Tate D18154; Turner Bequest CCVIII U),3 engraved in 1827 for the Ports of England, (Tate impressions: T04828, T04829), while Tate D17732 and D17737 (Turner Bequest CCII 13, 18) relate to the watercolour Dover from Shakespeare Cliff (currently untraced),4 engraved in 1826 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England (Tate impressions: T04424, T05246–T05251, T06000).
Eric Shanes describes the composition as a ‘lovely prospect’, ‘sadly’ not developed further,5 suggesting that it was a potential subject for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales.6 Acknowledging Warrell’s identification, he also relates it to adjacent (though not continuous) pencil drawings in the 1825 Holland sketchbook (Tate D19353, D19354; Turner Bequest CCXIV 258a, 259).7 Other versions of the subject are in the Hastings sketchbook of about 1816–18 (Tate D10363, D10364; CXXXIX 18a–19) and the Folkestone sketchbook of about 1821 (Tate D17286; Turner Bequest CXCVIII 47a).
A date range of about 1825–38 has been assigned as reflecting the broad period of Turner’s involvement with the England and Wales project in the absence of more specific evidence. See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified but unrealised subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
See Warrell 1991, p.35.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.387 no.753, reproduced, also noting D17733 as the source.
Ibid., p.355 no.483, reproduced.
Shanes 1997, p.27.
Ibid., pp.96, 105.
Ibid., pp.95, 96.
Blank, save for inscriptions: in pencil ‘AB 154 P’ top left, upside down; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram above ‘CCLXIII – 186’ bottom right; and in pencil ‘CCLXIII | 186’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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