Joseph Mallord William Turner

Minehead; ?Stratton; a Rocky Coastal Scene, Possibly at Bude


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 75 × 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 4

Display caption

The 'Mill Pool' (no.63) was apparently developed from this sketchbook.

Gallery label, February 1997

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry

Turner’s three inscriptions relate respectively to the two small views occupying the top third of the page to left and right, and the more substantial beach scene below, where the inscription tentatively transcribed above may be a commentary on the activities of the figures just above it. The three drawings are separated by vertical and horizontal pencil lines.
The view of Minehead shows the pier with the coast to the south-east beyond. There is a view of what seems to be Minehead Harbour on folio 205 recto (D08732; CXXIII 202), distant views from the coast to the south on folios 132 recto, 165 verso, 171 verso and 213 verso (D08613, D08672, D08683, D08747; CXXIII 129, 162a, 168a, 210a) and a drawing from the south in the contemporary Somerset and North Devon sketchbook (Tate D08956; Turner Bequest CXXVI 10).
The sketch at the top right may show Stratton, with the tall tower and low south aisle of St Andrew’s Church, just inland from Bude (see below) on the main road leading north towards Clovelly (see folios 224 verso–225 recto and 226 recto; D41521, D08765, D08766; Turner Bequest CXXIII 221 verso, 222, 223). There may be pack animals in the foreground, possibly on what is now Union Hill. Today, the church is obscured by buildings and trees from here, but a comparable view of the tower and distant hills is from the junction of Bentley Drive and the main road just north of Union Hill.
Eric Shanes has discussed the lower drawing in relation to an unfinished watercolour (Tate D25423; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 300),1 which he suggests is an abandoned design of about 1823 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast (see the 1811 West Country tour introduction). Because of the particular formation of the rocks and their brown tint in the watercolour, he concludes that they are of sandstone, thus limiting the possibilities to Cornwall and North Devon, probably ‘on the west-facing coasts of the Hartland peninsula, or between Saunton Sands and Morte Point, Devon’. The beaches in that area are full of lime-rich sea shells, and Turner seems to be recording ‘sand-landing’ – the removal of sand to be used on local agricultural land to neutralise the soil.2 There seem to be carts in the distance approaching a vessel, its sail visible above the rocks to the left. In the equivalent position in the watercolour is a ship which Shanes suggests may be bringing lime from South Wales.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

Finberg 1909, II, p.837, as ‘The Needles (?).’
Shanes 1997 pp.59–60.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like