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 × 518 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 50

Catalogue entry

The present work is one of eight ‘colour beginnings’ catalogued here as Land’s End subjects; the others are Tate D25129, D25163, D25165, D25274, D36323, D36324 and D36326 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 7, 41, 43, 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). For Turner’s 1811 pencil sketches at Land’s End, see under D25129.
Eric Shanes suggests that the present study, D25129 and D36324 (CCLXIII 7, CCCLXV 33) are reworkings of the composition 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), potentially for Turner’s later Picturesque Views in England and Wales. The original source was a pencil drawing in the 1811 Cornwall and Devon sketchbook (Tate D08941; Turner Bequest CXXV 50).
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 the ‘colour beginnings’ 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.
Technical notes:
There are a few random, isolated pencil strokes in the upper half. The left-hand edge has been folded and torn leaving a somewhat irregular, serrated edge.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘AB 92 P | O’ top left, upside down; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLXIII – 50’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII.50’ bottom right.
The ‘AB’ number corresponds with the endorsement on one of the parcels of works sorted by John Ruskin during his survey of the Turner Bequest, in this case classified by him as ‘Colour effects. Valueless’.1

Matthew Imms
March 2013

Transcribed in Finberg 1909, II, p.814.

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