Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figures and Boats on the Coast at Folkestone

c.1821–2

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 113 × 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17259
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 31

Catalogue entry

Pursuing his interest in the panoramic view laid out on the previous page, folio 30 verso (D17258), here Turner makes a closer cropped observation of the figures and fishing boats which occupy the coast of Folkestone as he looks along the cliffs towards Dover. Within the cluster of figures in the foreground, fishermen are identifiable on the right wearing sou’wester hats, pulled down hard on either side of their faces. A figure in the centre is bent double and seems to be occupied either with digging or in observation of an ambiguous structure set before him. On the other side of this, towards the left of the page, a line of people is assembled. They are framed on either side by fishing boats, whose swollen hulls and tall masts dwarf the slight frames of the figures. Buildings with windows are visible beyond this proximate scene, and in the distance cliffs rise above the horizon and tail off towards Dover.
Eric Shanes cites this drawing as one of several which informed the finished watercolour Coast from Folkestone Harbour to Dover (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut),1 engraved by J. Horsburgh in 1831 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales series (Tate impression T04571).2 For information about the other sketches identified by Shanes and for an explanation of his work on the subject of smuggling in the 1820s, see the entry for folio 30 verso (D17258).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.396 no.826, reproduced.
2
Shanes 1979, p.156

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