Joseph Mallord William Turner

Headland Views in England and Europe

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 × 113 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17297
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 55 a

Catalogue entry

This page is the second in a sequence of five which depict scenes of the coast 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 For a list of the other pages which evidence Turner’s transcription of these distinctive engravings, see the entry for Folio 55 recto (D17296). For more detailed information about the publication, and an interrogation of Turner’s use of it, see the sketchbook Introduction.
As expressed by Finberg, this page is concerned with ‘views of the English and French coast’.2 Turner demonstrates an interest in a combination of Kentish and more exotic locations, his sketches formulated in the manner of a list, and with the sketchbook turned vertically.
Beginning at the top of the page, the first inscription on the left is ‘C antifer’, which Finberg interprets as ‘Cap d’Antifer’ in Normandy, France.3 Cap d’Antifer borders the English Channel and the distinctive limestone topography characteristic of the French coastal region reinforces this identification. The scene describes a view of sharp, fragmented cliffs, including an isolated shard of rock jutting up out of the sea towards the left. On the far left and in the centre Turner describes naturally-occurring arches in the rock of parallel headlands, which are still a feature of these cliffs today. Along with several of the views on this page, this drawing is taken from plate 12 of The Little Sea Torch.4 Titled ‘Cape Antifer’ in the top left corner, the engraving is number 4 on the plate.5
Beneath this, the second panoramic view is again descriptive of a rugged cliff-side viewed from the water. ‘Cape antonio’ is inscribed across the blank, unelaborated rock face, which again was identified by Finberg.6 Another scene taken from plate 12 of The Little Sea Torch, the original engraving specifies the location as ‘Cape St Antonio, in the Bay of Biscay, W.S.W.’.7
The third drawing down from the top is the only one on this page from which an inscription is absent, but it describes the largest engraving on plate 12 of The Little Sea Torch: ‘Naples’.8 Turner’s sketch softly delineates the port scene, with its small lighthouse towards the centre. The top of the lighthouse overlaps slightly with the drawing above. The 1801 engraving from the book is more expansive, and includes a key across the bottom in order to identify important landmarks. The buildings on the distant side of the harbour are named as the ‘Castello del llovo’, referring to the Norman-built Castel dell’Ovo which is the oldest fortification in Naples.9 To the immediate right of ‘The Light House’ a ‘Fort at the Entrance of the Harbour’ is also identified.10 The ramparts described by Turner on the right of his drawing are labelled ‘Castello Nuovo’ in the engraving, identifying the thirteenth century castle which houses fragments of frescos painted by Giotto.11 Turner had visited the city as recently as 1819; see Nicola Moorby’s Introduction to the ‘First Italian Tour 1819–20’ section of this catalogue.
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’, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, accessed 26 October 2015, http://purl.pt/23500.
2
Finberg 1909, I, p.605.
3
Ibid.
4
‘Plate 12’, The Little Sea Torch, accessed 2 November 2015, http://purl.pt/23500/1/index.html#/173/html.
5
Ibid.
6
Ibid.
7
Ibid.
8
Ibid.
9
‘Il castel dell'ovo’, Comune di Napoli, accessed 2 November 2015, http://www.comune.napoli.it/flex/cm/pages/ServeBLOB.php/L/IT/IDPagina/1433.
10
‘Plate 12’, The Little Sea Torch, accessed 2 November 2015, http://purl.pt/23500/1/index.html#/173/html.
11
Joseph Archer Crowe and Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in Italy, New York 1903, p.97.
12
‘Plate 12’, The Little Sea Torch, accessed 2 November 2015, http://purl.pt/23500/1/index.html#/173/html.
13
Ibid.
14
Jessica Ball, ‘Stromboli – Italy’, accessed 2 November 2015, Geology.com, http://geology.com/volcanoes/stromboli/.
15
‘Plate 13’, The Little Sea Torch, accessed 2 November 2015, http://purl.pt/23500/1/index.html#/175/html.
16
‘Lizard Point and Kynance Cove’, The National Trust, accessed 2 November 2015, http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lizard-point-and-kynance-cove/visitor-information/.
17
‘Lizard’, Trinity House, accessed 2 November 2015, http://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/lighthouses/lighthouse_list/lizard.html.
18
Ibid.
19
‘Plate 13’, The Little Sea Torch, http://purl.pt/23500/1/index.html#/175/html, accessed 2 November 2015.
20
Finberg 1909, I, p.605.
21
‘Discover’, Land’s End Landmark, https://www.landsend-landmark.co.uk/pages/discover, accessed 2 November.
22
‘Plate 13’, The Little Sea Torch, http://purl.pt/23500/1/index.html#/175/html, accessed 2 November 2015.
23
Ibid.
24
Ibid.
25
Finberg 1909, I, p.605.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

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