Joseph Mallord William Turner

Folkestone Church and Harbour

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 x 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17235
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 17 a

Catalogue entry

As observed by Finberg, here Turner renders the church of St Mary and St Eanswythe in its position above the port at Folkestone, with cliffs stretching off in the direction of Dover in the background.1 Vessels are docked in the harbour, their masts breaking the placid stretch of flat water towards the shore. Two Martello towers crown the hillsides on either side of the church. For a brief outline of the history and purpose of these towers, and a list of the pages in this sketchbook which describe them, see the entry for folio 5 verso (D17215).
Finberg has been supported by later scholars in his description of this page as a primary source for Folkestone, Kent, painted in about 1823 (Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati, Ohio ),2 engraved by R. Wallis and published in 1826 for Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England series (Tate impression: T05997).3 He additionally cites a later drawing in this sketchbook on folio 24 verso (D17248) as inspiration for the same composition.4
Ian Warrell cites this page in his outline of one of Turner’s forays into topographic fantasy. Light-towers of la Hève; moonrise of about 1844 (Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight)5 contains two embellishments. One of these appears to be the St Mary and Eanswythe church, dropped into the French scene on the left of the lighthouses.6 According to Warrell, the second incongruous addition is a church taken from a vignette of Margate.7 To use Warrell’s words: ‘[why] Turner decided to merge the Cap de la Hève with places on the Kent coast remains a mystery’.8 Whatever the reason, the presence of the Folkestone church in this scene demonstrates the enduring circulation of sketchbooks within Turner’s studio; acting as inspiration even for works to which they might seem irrelevant.
There are a great number of studies of Folkestone in the present sketchbook, a fact made evident by its title. These drawings can be found on folios 3 recto, 4 verso, 5 verso, 14 verso, 17 verso, 20 verso–21 verso, 24 verso, 25 recto, 27 verso–29 recto, 30 verso–32 recto, 33 verso, 34 recto, 37 verso, 38 recto, 52 verso, 82 recto, 87 recto, and 90 verso (D17211, D17213, D17215, D17230, D17235, D17240–D17242, D17248–D17249, D17252–D17255, D17258–D17261, D17263–D17264, D17270–D17271, D17293, D17347, D17355, D17362). For an overview of Folkestone’s role in Turner’s oeuvre more broadly, refer to the sketchbook Introduction.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

1
Finberg,1909, I, p.604.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.355 no.480, reproduced.
3
Finberg 1909, I, p.604.
4
Ibid.
5
Wilton 1979, p.418 no.1001, reproduced.
6
Warrell 1999, p.96.
7
Ibid.
8
Ibid.

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