Joseph Mallord William Turner

Mount’s Bay from Penzance Harbour


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 139 × 215 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXV a 6

Catalogue entry

Boats are shown moored beside the inner face of Penzance’s South Pier. Beyond to the left is St Michael’s Mount, seen to the east across Mount’s Bay. The harbour has been much altered since, beginning with an extension to the pier soon after Turner’s 1811 visit1 and the later construction of further piers to form two enclosed docks. South Pier can be viewed from the Quay, and there are open views across the bay from a little to the north along Wharf Road.
There is a similar view on folio 14 recto (D41289), one from a different viewpoint on folio 15 recto (D41290), and distant prospects on folios 16 recto (D41291) and 84 recto (D41366). For other views of Mount’s Bay and the Mount, see under folio 7 recto (D41282). Penzance is mentioned in Turner’s poetry in the contemporary Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate D08635; Turner Bequest CXXIII 141a) as is Mount’s Bay in a succeeding passage (Tate D08645; Turner Bequest CXXIII 146a).
As discussed in the introduction, the pages of the present sketchbook 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 and St Michael’s Mount’.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 The 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) 36.
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 6.
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 from Penzance’ bottom left; inscribed by Edwin Fagg in pencil ‘134 | 36’ bottom right. There are glue stains at the corners of the sheet.

Matthew Imms
July 2011

Read full Catalogue entry


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