Joseph Mallord William Turner

Folkestone Church and Harbour


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 24 a

Catalogue entry

As noted by Finberg, here the prospect encompasses the harbour at Folkestone, dominated by the main parish church of St Mary and St Eanswythe and punctuated by two squat Martello towers positioned along the coast.1 For a brief outline of the history and purpose of these towers, and a list of their appearances in the present sketchbook, see the entry for folio 5 verso (D17215). Clean, almost abstract, impressions of the cliffs towards Dover recede into the distance, and in the foreground the shore appears littered with small fishing vessels, while the harbour arm extends horizontally into the expanse of water. Towards the right hand side of the page, Turner’s pencil has made busy, indecisive marks denoting various small shapes and a single undulating line. The dark silhouette of a figure stands alone on the hillside towards the centre of the sketch.
The view is almost identical to that which Turner adopts in the watercolour study Folkestone, with the Church of St Mary and St Eanswythe and a Martello Tower in the Distance (Tate D35370; Turner Bequest CCCLVI 10). Finberg observes that the sketch, along with an earlier example of folio 17 verso (D17235) may also have inspired the composition for Turner’s watercolour Folkestone, Kent of 1823 (Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati),2 engraved for the Southern Coast series in 1826 (Tate impression T05254).3
Ian Warrell cites this page as reference material used by Turner when he merged the Cap de la Hève in France with the Kent coast to produce Light-towers of la Hève: moonrise, painted around 1844 (Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight).4 For a more detailed explanation of Warrell’s research, as well as a full list of other examples of Turner’s studies of this church in both the present sketchbook and elsewhere, see the entry for folio 17 verso (D17235).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg 1909, I, p.604.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.355 no.480, reproduced.
Finberg 1909, I, p.604.
Wilton 1979, p.418 no.1001, reproduced.

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