Joseph Mallord William Turner

Falmouth and Pendennis Castle from St Mawes Castle


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 75 x 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 145 a

Catalogue entry

In identifying this subject, Eric Shanes has observed that the main upper view here is a continuation from the right of the main drawing below.1 There appears to be a third coastal outline at the top right. In the lower drawing, Turner looked south-west towards the sea beyond the Tudor St Mawes Castle2 in the foreground, with Pendennis Castle on its promontory across Carrick Roads in the distance. Pendennis Castle’s middle section is repeated at the respective edges of the two sections (to the right below and to the left above), while in the upper drawing Falmouth is shown in the centre, due west of St Mawes.
Turner followed the sketch(es) in his watercolour of Falmouth of about 1825 (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts),3 engraved in 1828 for The Ports of England (but not published until 1856 in The Harbours of England). Instead of treating the two parts of the original panoramic view as a continuum, he used the left-hand two thirds of the upper section (seen from the east) for the distance of the watercolour and moved the St Mawes fort (drawn here from the north-east) in front of the distant hill, significantly distorting the true relationship between the fort and the background.4 As the central tower is on a circular plan this shift is less apparent than it might have been.
For other views in and around St Mawes and Falmouth see under folio 7 verso (D08375).

Matthew Imms
June 2011

Shanes 1981, p.38, and 1990, p.142; see also Smiles 1988, pp.54, 57 note 2.
See [Adèle Campbell (ed.)], Heritage Unlocked: Guide to Free [English Heritage] Sites in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, London 2004, p.89.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.388 no.762, reproduced.
See Shanes 1981, p.38, further emphasising the orientations respectively as ‘from the south’ and ‘from the north’; amended in 1990, p.142 as ‘due-easterly’ and ‘north-east’.

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