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 and gouache on paper
Support: 380 × 586 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXV 33

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, D25172, D25274, D36323 and D36326 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 7, 41, 43, 50, 152, CCCLXV 32, 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 D25172 (CCLXIII 7, 50) 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 is some scratching to create texture across the dark rocks at bottom left.
Blank, save for a few dark straight lines apparently offset from a regularly shaped object.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop