Joseph Mallord William Turner

Margate Pier and Lighthouse from the Great Beach, with Light Breaking through Cloud; Shakespeare Cliff, Dover, ?with the Twin Railway Tunnel Entrances


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and graphite on paper
Support: 141 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXLI 427v

Catalogue entry

As with the recto (Tate D34160; Turner Bequest CCCXLI 427), which includes an inscription perhaps relating to work in progress in 1844, the main view here seems to be from the Great Beach at Margate, with slight indications of Droit House and/or the lighthouse on the stone pier, and afternoon light breaking through rain clouds to the west and illuminating the sea. For more on the Margate setting, see the Introduction to this subsection.
Inverted at the bottom edge and not noted by Finberg1 is a smaller drawing, showing the towering chalk Shakespeare Cliff, west of Dover on the opposite coast of Kent, a familiar subject; compare for example a pencil drawing in the 1825 Holland sketchbook (Tate D18842; Turner Bequest CCXIV 1a). The present drawing reveals a change: two small marks side by side on the lowest part of the cliff face, and two parallel strokes below them, apparently indicating the tunnel entrances and twin lines of the railway between Dover and Folkestone, which opened in February 1844.2
Turner was always alert to new developments in familiar places; Alice Rylance-Watson has discussed the artist’s interest in the contemporary railway viaduct at Folkestone, as depicted in his 1845 Ideas of Folkestone sketchbook (see under Tate D35371; Turner Bequest CCCLVI 11).
See Finberg 1909, II, p.1094.
See for example ‘Station Name: Dover Admiralty Pier’, Disused Stations, accessed 17 August 2016,
Technical notes:
Turner’s use of this sheet of buff paper is unusual among the Margate views grouped here, although several others are on blue paper. Compare one other sheet of similar size and colour (Tate D29014; Turner Bequest CCXCII 63).

Matthew Imms
August 2016

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