Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: A List of ‘Southern Coast’ Subjects; with a Sketch of Restormel Castle


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 117 x 75 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 7

Catalogue entry

The top half of the page is taken up with the following list:
Tintagel  –               20  
Clovelly . North Devon    21  
Ilfracombe                22  
Lynmouth                  23  
Minehead                  24  
Weston Watchet            25  
This list concludes that begun on folio 5 recto (D08370), noting places Turner sketched among many others in anticipation of making watercolours to be engraved for the Southern Coast project which was the main reason for his 1811 West Country tour. All are included in the series except Lynmouth and Weston(-super-Mare), the latter being slightly beyond the northern limit of his known route. Sheerness, Kent, is far outside the West Country and does not appear in the series anyway, although some Kent subjects were included from sketches made on other occasions. The subjects are listed in the geographical order in which Turner would have encountered them, travelling east along the north coasts of Cornwall and Devon and on into Somerset. The word ‘Somersetshire’ appears on folio 6 verso opposite (D08373), qualifying Minehead, Weston and Watchet. Two completed Southern Coast subjects along this stretch, Boscastle and Combe Martin, are not listed here (see the concordance in the introduction to the 1811 tour).
A further note, ‘Tehidy. Lord de Dunstanville’ has been inserted at the very top of the page. Francis Basset, Baron de Dunstanville and 1st Baron Basset (1757–1835) was a politician and landowner with Cornish interests. He had been a patron of the Cornish painter and Royal Academy Professor John Opie (1761–1807), and edited an edition of Richard Carew’s 1602 Survey of Cornwall in 1811, the year of Turner’s visit to the county,1 although it is not known whether Turner had contact with the peer or visited his Tehidy estate near Redruth, now a country park.2 There is a drawing apparently showing Redruth on folio 236 verso (D08780; CXXIII 233a).
The drawing on the other half of the page, turned horizontally, is roughly framed by vertical and horizontal lines and shows a ruin which appears to be Restormel Castle, near Lostwithiel, with its imposing gateway at the centre on the west side of the drum-like, circular keep, also recorded in scattered sketches on folios 40 verso, 41 recto, 66 recto and 210 verso (D08438, D08439, D08488, D08741; Turner Bequest CXXIII 40a, 41, 63, 207a). There is also a drawing in the contemporary Ivy Bridge to Penzance sketchbook (Tate D08895; Turner Bequest CXXV 21a).

Matthew Imms
June 2011

Roland Thorne, ‘Basset, Francis, Baron de Dunstanville and first Baron Basset (1757–1835)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed 6 January 2010,
‘Tehidy Country Park’, Cornwall Council, accessed 6 January 2010,

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