Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: A List of ‘Southern Coast’ Subjects


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and pen and ink on paper
Support: 117 × 75 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 5

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following list:
Poole               0 1       1  
Corfe Castle        – 0 2     2  
Lulworth Castle x     0 3     3  
_________________Cove         4  
Weymouth     . 0 4            5  
Portland     . 0 5  
Abbotbury. x                  6  
Lyme Regis     0 6            7  
     Teignmouth  8            8  
Torbay –      0 9  
Dartmouth       0 10          9  
Plymouth          11 12 13    11  
Mt Edgecombe          0 10    12  
                      0 11
E and W Looe         14 12    13  
               Fowey          13  
Falmouth     Bridport         14  
St Mawes or Pendennis     16  15  
St Michael Mount     17       16  
Lands End         18          17  
St Ives               19      19  
In a few cases earlier figures have been overwritten, and the provisional nature of the list is apparent. It comprises places Turner sketched, among many others, in anticipation of making watercolours to be engraved for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England, the main motivation for his West Country tour of 1811. Including four views in and around Plymouth, all appear in the series except Abbotsbury, of which no sketches are identified, although it is mentioned in Turner’s poetry on folio 103 verso (D08559; CXXIII 100a), and St Ives, drawn in the Cornwall and Devon sketchbook (see in particular Tate D41326–D41329, D41364; Turner Bequest CXXV a 47–50, 82). The subjects, except Bridport, are listed in the geographical order in which Turner would have encountered them travelling west along the South Coast before continuing north-east from Land’s End. For a concordance of Southern Coast watercolours and prints, see the introduction to the 1811 tour.
Gerald Wilkinson assumed that Turner ‘crossed off the subjects ... as they were done. For the rest, he followed his own inclinations.’1 As Howard Hanley suggests,2 the list may have been drawn up prior to departure, but whether it was numbered, annotated and renumbered en route or back in the studio is effectively impossible to establish. Hanley’s suggestion that the numbers immediately after the place names indicate the consecutive days when Turner visited them seems unlikely – if so, as he says, ‘Turner must have moved fast even for him’.3 They seem rather to be simply a working total of subjects, clarified in the right-hand column.
Wilkinson 1977, p.131.
Hanley 1992, p.6.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

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