Joseph Mallord William Turner

Mount’s Bay and Penzance Harbour


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 140 × 215 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXV a 14

Catalogue entry

Vessels are shown moored beside the inner, north face of Penzance’s South Pier. In the distance to the left is St Michael’s Mount across Mount’s Bay to the east. The harbour has been much altered, beginning with an extension to the South Pier soon after Turner’s 1811 visit,1 and later the construction of further piers forming two enclosed docks in the foreground, shown here as yet undeveloped with figures and a horse and cart on the shore. Wharf Road now provides a similar viewpoint. The spire on the right appears to belong to St Mary’s Chapel, since replaced by the parish church under the same dedication with its square, pinnacled tower. There is a similar view on folio 6 recto (D41281), under which other views are discussed; the spire and the distant Mount appear again in a view from south-west of the town on folio 15 recto (D41290).
As discussed in the introduction, the pages of this ‘sketchbook’ appear to have originally been loose sheets, and are not recorded in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory of the Bequest, although he subsequently noted the subject as ‘Mounts Bay, with St. Michs Mount in dist. on left’ in a manuscript listing,2 while C.F. Bell similarly described it in his own notes as ‘Mounts Bay from Penzance’.3 Figures usually corresponding to Finberg’s MS catalogue page numbers, which differ from Bell’s sequence, are inscribed on the verso of most sheets.
See Cahill Partnership, ‘Penzance Harbour, South Pier: Historic Building Analysis’, Friends of Penzance Harbour, accessed 24 May 2010,
A.J. Finberg, MS addenda, [circa 1928–39], tipped into a copy of his A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, opposite p.356, as CXXV(a) 35.
C.F. Bell, MS addenda, [after 1928], tipped into a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, p.356A, as CXXVa 14.
Technical notes:
The sheet is slightly wrinkled, possibly as a result of exposure to damp.
Blank, save for inscriptions: inscribed by C.F. Bell in pencil ‘Mounts Bay & Penzance’ bottom left; inscribed by Edwin Fagg in pencil ‘134 | 35’ bottom right. There are glue stains at the corners of the sheet.

Matthew Imms
July 2011

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