Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: A Note on Sussex Subjects in Progress


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 87 × 119 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXIX 36

Catalogue entry

Turner turned the page vertically to write the following note at the top:
2 –
10 –
4. Battle – Rye – Gateway.
2 3. Ash[...]
The last word tails off rapidly, but is likely to signify ‘Ashburnham’, probably referring either to the 1816 watercolour design The Vale of Ashburnham (British Museum, London)1 or another of the same title and about the same date (University of Liverpool),2 respectively engraved in 1816 for W.B. Cooke’s series of Turner’s Views in Sussex (Tate impressions: T05078, T06004, T06005) and aquatinted around 1816–18 for Four Large Coloured Views in Sussex.
Both had been commissioned by John ‘Jack’ Fuller (1757–1834), along with other Sussex subjects, including the watercolour of about 1816, Battle Abbey, the Spot where Harold Fell,3 engraved in 1819 for Views in Sussex (Tate impressions: T04428–T04430, T06002), in which there is a small gateway. ‘Rye’ does not feature among the published Views in Sussex, but a watercolour View of Rye of about 1820 (National Museum Wales, Cardiff)4 was engraved in 1824 for Cooke’s Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England (Tate impressions: T04407, T04408, T05270–T05273, T05989). There is a list of works of about 1818 with ‘Rye’ and ‘Battle’ in conjunction in the Liber Notes (2) sketchbook (Tate D12204; Turner Bequest CLIV a 58).
See also David Blayney Brown’s Introduction to the ‘Sketchbooks used in East Sussex’ (c.1806–20) section of the present catalogue. There is a related note on folio 30 recto (D13797) and, on folios 1 recto, 39 verso and 40 verso (D13751, D13811, D13813), studies for the Views in Sussex frontispiece vignette.

Matthew Imms
September 2013

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.348 no.425, pl.126.
Ibid., p.349 no.433, reproduced.
Ibid., p.348 no.423.
Ibid., pp.353–4 no.471, reproduced.

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