Joseph Mallord William Turner

Folkestone, with the Harbour Railway Viaduct and a Martello Tower


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 230 × 328 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVI 11

Catalogue entry

Turner has produced this pencil and watercolour drawing with the sketchbook turned upside down relative to the foliation. He moved eastwards from the Church of St Mary and St Eanswythe along the coast to take this view, travelling towards the Martello tower seen in the distance. What appears to be the newly built railway viaduct can be seen on the left highlighted in fine vertical strokes of pale red. Turner has inscribed the arches of the viaduct with a number ‘19’. The viaduct was part of the infrastructure for a new branch line built in 1844 to take passengers from Folkestone Junction to a recently built harbour station, thus providing a rail link for boat trains connecting with ferry services to Calais and Boulogne.1
Rough areas of relatively dryly applied pale brown wash give a first sense of tone to some of the headland upon which the Martello tower is situated. Within the headland to the left of the tower Turner has inscribed a number ‘17’ in pencil. Rough jottings of pale grey wash tinged with vivid red at the far right comprise half of the central register. An arced sequence of seemingly random strokes of the brush lead the eye towards the foreground. It is difficult to decipher these markings but they may represent a form of pictorial notation for foreground incident. Turner has completed the composition with swift diagonal strokes of pale blue wash to render the sky, leaving some areas of the white paper showing.

Alice Rylance-Watson
February 2013

See ‘Folkestone Harbour History’, Folkestone Harbour Company, accessed 18 February 2013,

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