Joseph Mallord William Turner

Land’s End, Cornwall


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 356 × 310 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 7

Catalogue entry

Turner visited Land’s End, the most westerly point of mainland England, on his West Country tour of 1811, when he made pencil drawings in the Cornwall and Devon sketchbook (Tate D08941, D08942, D41300–D41305, D41348, D41349; Turner Bequest CXXV 50, 51, CXXV a 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 66, 67). The first of these, D08941 (CXXV 50), a view to the north, was the basis of the untraced watercolour Land’s End, Cornwall: Approaching Thunderstorm of about 1813,1 engraved in 1814 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England (Tate impressions: T04373, T04374, T05426–T05433, T05963).
The present work is one of eight ‘colour beginnings’ catalogued here as Land’s End subjects; the others are Tate D25163, D25165, D25172, D25274, D36323, D36324 and D36326 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 41, 43, 50, 152, CCCLXV 32, 33, 35). A further colour study has been proposed as a Land’s End view among other possibilities (Tate D25185; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 63).
Eric Shanes suggests that the present study, D25172 and D36324 (CCLXIII 50, CCCLXV 33) are reworkings of the Southern Coast view, potentially for Turner’s later Picturesque Views in England and Wales. (The three compositionally and technically similar works can be dated after 1829 from the watermark of that year on the other half of the sheet of which the present work was originally part – see the technical notes below.) This approach was seemingly abandoned in favour of a fresh design, the watercolour Longships Lighthouse, Land’s End of about 1834 (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles),2 which was engraved in 1836 for England and Wales (no impressions held at Tate);3 D25163, D25165, D25274 and D36326 (CCLXIII 41, 43, 152, CCCLXV 35) may all relate to the latter composition.
David Hill has described the status of Shanes’s identification as ‘not proven or positively dubious’.4
See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
Wilton 1979, p.351 no.447.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.401 no.864, reproduced.
See Shanes 1997, pp.16, 18, 78–9, 95, 98.
Hill 1997, p.7.
Shanes 1997, pp.79, 92 note 68.1 as ‘j whatman 1829’, pp.94, 95, 98, 101.
Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.49.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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