Joseph Mallord William Turner

Holy Island Cathedral


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour and bodycolour on paper
Support: 285 × 193 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 111

Display caption

When the series of 'Southern Coast' views was reaching its conclusion around 1824, Turner and William Cooke intended to continue the publication with views of the east coast. By the end of 1826, however, they had quarrelled bitterly over the terms upon which it should advance. Turner nevertheless determined to issue the work himself and made a series of watercolours on blue paper which were engraved by J.C.Allen, but remained unpublished. This watercolour would appear to be related to the project. Turner had first visited Holy Island in 1797 and was to include a view of the island in the 'Picturesque Views in England and Wales'.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Turner first visited the historic tidal island of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, during his 1797 tour of the north of England, which took in the border county of Northumberland. He returned to Lindisfarne as a subject more than once during his career, creating a finished print entitled ‘Holy Island Cathedral’for his Liber Studiorum in 1809 (Tate D08115; Turner Bequest CXVI N), and a watercolour of the island for his Picturesque Views in England and Wales in the 1820s (Victoria and Albert Museum, London1). While the present study on blue paper bears resemblance to the Liber design in its focus on the ruined priory, its format and blue paper support suggest that it may instead have been made with a third print project, known as ‘Picturesque Views on the East Coast of England’, in mind. For more information about this project see the Introduction to this section.
Like with Tate D27627 (Turner Bequest CCLXXX 110), another sheet connected to the ‘East Coast’series, Turner used opaque white gouache to highlight the architectural forms, with a warm palette of brown and ochre employed to suggest the surroundings.
This study, along with some completed views of Whitby more definitely connected to the ‘East Coast’ series (see the Introduction to this section), may provide an indication of some of the east coast subjects from outside East Anglia that Turner envisaged for the unfinished scheme.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.396 no.819.
Blank, save for inscription in pencil: ‘A B 23 P o’.

Elizabeth Jacklin
August 2018

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