Joseph Mallord William Turner

Gosport and Portsmouth from the Sea; Portsmouth Harbour with the Square Tower Semaphore Station and Other Buildings


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 100 × 160 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCVI 5 a

Catalogue entry

There are three coastal profiles here. Near the centre at the top, the Gosport blockhouse is seen to the north from Spithead, out at sea, with shipping beyond in Portsmouth Harbour and Portsmouth to the right, with the Square Tower semaphore station and what is probably the clock tower of the Vulcan Block. Below is a closer view of the Portsmouth side, with the Round Tower, Baltic Wharf, the clock tower, the semaphore station, and Portsmouth Cathedral on the right. Below is a slight continuation or view nearby, without clear landmarks. Compare the view on folios 6 verso–7 recto (D17924–D17925).
This is one of a continuous series of views around Portsmouth between folios 1 recto and 20 recto (D17913–D17951); many appear to have been made from a boat; for the overall sequence and details of the most prominent buildings and defences, see the Introduction. This page has been linked1 to the watercolours Portsmouth of about 1824 (Lady Lever Art Galley, Port Sunlight),2 engraved in 1825 for Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England (Tate impressions: T04419, T05302–T05304, T05994), and Portsmouth of about 1824–5 (Tate D18152; Turner Bequest CCVIII S),3 engraved in 1828 for The Ports of England, and reissued in 1856 in The Harbours of England (Tate impressions: T04833, T04834). The right-hand two thirds of the upper view can be compared with both designs, where the Portsmouth buildings shown in both studies here also appear, albeit in different juxtapositions.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

See Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.94, re Ports and Southern Coast, Wilton 1979, p.387, re Ports, Shanes 1981, p.153, re Southern Coast and Ports, and Shanes 2001, p.159, re Ports.
Wilton 1979, p.354 no.477, reproduced.
Ibid., p.387 no.756, reproduced.

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