Joseph Mallord William Turner

Fishing Boats on the Shore and the Bass Rock


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXVII 31

Catalogue entry

With a backdrop of the view north-east along the Firth of Forth with North Berwick Law on the left and Bass Rock on the right,1 Turner has created a tableau of two fishing boats and a selection of fishing paraphernalia: baskets, fish, floats and a lobster pot. The boats seem to be pulled up on the beach, and the other objects are neatly laid out as if on display, suggesting that Turner either invented the scene, or rearranged objects that he had seen to make a pleasing composition. At the left of the picture, the drawing continued slightly onto folio 31 verso (D13635; CLXVII 30a).
Fishing boats and related paraphernalia are also present in William Daniell’s 1822 aquatint of The Bass Rock (Tate T02923), part of his Voyage Around Great Britain series; although the viewpoint differs.
There is a pale pink smudge at the bottom right of the page, the remains of Ruskin’s red ink numbering.

Thomas Ardill
March 2008

Shanes identified this view as Bass Rock: Shanes 1997, p.92.

Read full Catalogue entry

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