Joseph Mallord William Turner

Headland Views in Devon and France

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: 187 x 113 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17298
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 56

Catalogue entry

Leading on from the facing page on folio 55 verso (D17297), here Turner continues a list of tightly packed sketches of headland topography. Made with the sketchbook turned vertically, and with the gutter at the top, these drawings are copied from The Little Sea Torch, an illustrated maritime text by Richard Bougard, translated from the French by J.T. Serres and published in London in 1801.1 Turner has transcribed pictures from this book onto nine pages in the current sketchbook. For a full list of these, see the entry for Folio 55 recto (D17296). For more detailed information about the 1801 publication, and an interrogation of Turner’s use of it, see the sketchbook Introduction.
At the top of this page, almost swallowed by the gutter in places, is the inscription ‘Praul and Start’, followed by ‘ENE’ in the top right corner. ‘Praul’ refers to Prawle Point in south west Devon. In his entry for the page, Finberg corrects Turner’s misspelling.2 In fact, the mistake was inherited from The Little Sea Torch, in the title given to the second engraving on plate 14, the source of Turner’s rendering: ‘Praul Point, & the Start, E.N.E., 2 or 3 Miles dist’.3 ‘Start’ refers to Start Point, also in Devon, which marks the most southern limit of Start Bay. ‘ENE’ means ‘East-northeast’, and refers to the mid-point on a compass between due east and northeast, or 67° 30' clockwise from north.
This first drawing on the page faithfully transcribes the printed reference diagram of Prawle and Start points. The identification is doubly confirmed by the distinctive Horse’s Head rock at the tip of the peninsula on the left. Turner’s pencil is soft but the lines are sharp in places, particularly where the sketch describes the treacherous lip of the cliff top. A second drawing beneath the first repeats the same subject matter, emulating engraving 4 on plate 14 of The Little Sea Torch, entitled ‘Praul Point, E.N.E. 1 Mile dist’.4 Again, the Horse’s Head at Prawle Point forms a distinctive feature on the right hand side, towards the centre of Turner’s page.
1
Richard Bougard, The Little Sea Torch: or, True Guide for Coasting Pilots: by which they are clearly instructed how to navigate along the coasts of Malta, Corsica, Sardinia, and others in the Straits; and of The Coast of Barbary, from Cape Bon to Cape de Verd, trans. with corrections and additions by John Thomas Serres, London 1801. For an online and PDF facsimile, see ‘The Little Sea Torch’, accessed 26 October 2015, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, http://purl.pt/23500.
2
Finberg 1909, I, p.605.
3
‘Plate 14’, accessed 3 November 2015, The Little Sea Torch, http://purl.pt/23500/1/index.html#/177/html.
4
Ibid.
5
Ibid.
6
Ibid.
7
‘Ushant and the Iroise Islands’, Tourisme Bretagne, accessed 3 November 2015, http://www.brittanytourism.com/discover-our-destinations/brest-terres-oceanes/unmissable-sites/ushant-and-the-iroise-islands.
8
‘Ouessant Island’, Encyclopaedia Britannica, accessed 3 November 2015, http://www.britannica.com/place/Ouessant-Island.
9
‘Ushant and the Iroise Islands’, Tourisme Bretagne, accessed 3 November 2015, http://www.brittanytourism.com/discover-our-destinations/brest-terres-oceanes/unmissable-sites/ushant-and-the-iroise-islands.
10
‘Lighthouses of Northern France’, The University of North Carolina, accessed 3 November 2015, https://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/lighthouse/fns.htm.
11
Steven Erlanger, ‘France Sees Its Heritage in Its Crumbling Lighthouses’, accessed 3 November 2015, The New York Times, 23 April 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/world/europe/23lighthouse.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.
12
‘Plate 15’, accessed 3 November 2015, The Little Sea Torch, http://purl.pt/23500/1/index.html#/179/html.
13
Ibid.
14
Ibid.
15
Ibid.
16
Ibid.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

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