Joseph Mallord William Turner

Portsmouth Harbour from the Quebec Baths

1827

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 110 × 185 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D20747
Turner Bequest CCXXVII 10

Catalogue entry

The view is north up the eastern shore of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, from the Point. The note apparently reading ‘Quebec Baths’ refers to the building still standing as Quebec House on the waterfront off Bath Square, north of the Round Tower; it was built by public subscription for a form of indoor sea bathing, with pipes channelling fresh seawater inside from the harbour with each tide.1 Turner had drawn and noted it in the distance from the other direction in the course of a sustained survey of Portsmouth and Gosport, probably in 1824, in the London Bridge and Portsmouth sketchbook (Tate D17944; Turner Bequest CCVI 16a).
The feature in the distance here is apparently the semaphore tower at the naval dockyard (described in the introduction to the London Bridge and Portsmouth book), with the masts of warships moored in the harbour. Turner was presumably at Portsmouth on this occasion in the course of travelling to or from the Isle of Wight (see under folio 2 recto; D20735), and had time to make studies of several aspects of the area, on folios 22 verso, 23 verso, 24 verso, 31 verso, 37 verso, and 38 recto and verso (D20766, D20768, D20770, D20777, D20788–D20790; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 22, 23, 24, 29, 35a, 36, 36a).

Matthew Imms
November 2015

1
See ‘Quebec House, Old Portsmouth’, Hampshire History, accessed 16 December 2014, http://www.hampshire-history.com/quebec-house-old-portsmouth/.

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