Joseph Mallord William Turner

Pendennis Castle and the Entrance of Falmouth Harbour


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 166 × 208 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXV 27

Catalogue entry

The view is from Pennance Point on the Cornish coast, looking east to Pendennis Castle above the point of the same name south of Falmouth, with St Anthony’s Head, across on the St Mawes side of Carrick Roads, washed in palely beyond. The Tudor castle was built between 1540 and 1545.1 The pencil work in the rocky foreground appears intentionally rough compared to the delicacy of the drawing and colouring of the distant castle.
Finberg noted that this sketch is the basis of the watercolour Pendennis Castle, Cornwall, Scene after a Wreck of about 1816 (private collection),2 engraved in 1817 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England3 (see the concordance of the series in the 1811 tour introduction). Eric Shanes has suggested a view of the castle and its immediate surroundings in the smaller Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate D08761; Turner Bequest CXXIII 218) as another source,4 although the present drawing probably provided enough information in itself.
This is one of two partly coloured studies in the sketchbook. The other, of a river bed, probably at Ivybridge, is on folio 1 recto (D08939; CXXV 48). The pencil drawing on the verso of the present leaf (D08906) shows the scene from a slightly different viewpoint. For other Falmouth studies, see under folio 25 verso (Tate D08901; Turner Bequest CXXV 24a), where Pendennis Castle is seen from the opposite direction.
This page was displayed at Tate St Ives in the 2006 exhibition concerning Turner in the West Country.5

Matthew Imms
February 2011

See [Adèle Campbell (ed.)], Heritage Unlocked: Guide to Free [English Heritage] Sites in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, London 2004, p.88.
Wilton 1979, p.352 no.458, reproduced.
Finberg 1909, I, p.356; see also Wilton 1979, p.352, and Shanes 1981, p.152.
Shanes 1981, p.152.
Sketchbook noted in ‘List of Works’ in Sam Smiles, Light into Colour: Turner in the South West, exhibition catalogue, Tate St Ives 2006, p.55, but folio not specified; page reproduced on exhibition microsite, Tate Online, accessed 28 October 2008

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