Joseph Mallord William Turner

Plymouth Citadel and Mount Batten


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 95 × 157 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXI 7

Catalogue entry

With the page turned horizontally, this study, looking east along Plymouth Sound from below the Hoe towards the Citadel and the tower across the Cattewater at Mount Batten, informs the currently untraced watercolour Plymouth Citadel of about 1813,1 etched in 1814 and engraved in 1815 for the Rivers of Devon but not published until 1823 (Tate impressions: Tate T06009, T05785; see the concordance of the series in the Introduction to the 1813 tour). The main lines of the design were taken from the view made a little further west on folio 8 recto (D09225), but the dramatic localised shadow and rain clouds carefully recorded here were also incorporated.
The watercolour Catwater, Plymouth of about 1826 (Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Hobart, Tasmania),2 engraved in 1828 for the Ports of England but not published until 1856 in the Harbours of England (Tate impression: T04836), probably also stems from the right-hand sections of the drawings here and on folio 8 recto (again, see the concordance in the 1813 Introduction).
William Daniell’s 1825 aquatint of The Citadel, Plymouth from A Voyage Round Great Britain (Tate impression: T03002) shows a similar view from a higher vantage point. The drawings Turner made nearby on folios 9 recto and 10 recto (D09225) were used for a companion Rivers of Devon design showing Plymouth Sound.
The subjects as far as folio 127 recto (D09358) are all identified or presumed sites within a few miles in and around Plymouth, suggesting a series of fairly short excursions.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.350 no.440, under which unspecified ‘drawings of ... the Citadel’ in this sketchbook ‘probably used for’ no.440 are mentioned.
Wilton 1979, p.388 no.761, reproduced.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

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