Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ilfracombe from below Capstone Hill


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 140 × 215 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXV a 38

Catalogue entry

Turner’s viewpoint is the foot of Capstone Hill, looking east towards Ilfracombe Harbour, indicated by a cluster of masts to the right. To the left of centre is St Nicholas’s Chapel on Lantern Hill, with Hillsborough rising beyond. There is a brief continuation of the hill’s profile down to the sea at the top left. Eric Shanes has noted this sketch among others1 in connection with the watercolour Ilfracombe, North Devon of about 1813–16 (private collection),2 engraved in 1818 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England (see the concordance of the series in the 1811 tour introduction.) See under folio 37 recto (D41314) for further discussion and other Ilfracombe views.
As discussed in the introduction, the pages of this ‘sketchbook’ appear to have originally been loose sheets, and are not recorded in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory of the Bequest, although he subsequently noted the subject as ‘Rocks on coast’ in a manuscript listing,3 while C.F. Bell described it tentatively in his own notes as ‘Ilfracombe(?)’.4 Figures usually corresponding to Finberg’s MS catalogue page numbers, which differ from Bell’s sequence, are inscribed on the verso of most sheets.
Shanes 1981, p.152.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.352 no.462, reproduced.
A.J. Finberg, MS addenda, [circa 1928–39], tipped into a copy of his A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, opposite p.357, as CXXV(a) 86.
C.F. Bell, MS addenda, [after 1928], tipped into a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, p.356B, as CXXVa 38.
Technical notes:
The sheet is slightly wrinkled, possibly as a result of exposure to damp.
Blank, save for inscriptions: inscribed by C.F. Bell in pencil ‘Ilfracomb?’ bottom left; inscribed by Edwin Fagg in pencil ‘186 | 86’ bottom right. There are glue stains at the corners of the sheet.

Matthew Imms
July 2011

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