Joseph Mallord William Turner

Rocky Coast


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Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 502 × 657 mm
frame: 591 × 743 × 52 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

273. [N05499] Rocky Coast c. 1825–30


Canvas, 19 3/4 × 25 7/8 (50 × 65·5)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (? 165, one of 2 each 2'2" × 1'8" with No. 274 [N05485]); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1947.

Exh. Arts Council tour 1952 (17).

Lit. Davies 1946, p. 161.

This relatively tame seapiece can probably be dated to the later 1820s. John Gage (letter of 17 November 1977) has suggested that it shows Shakespeare Cliff, Dover, seen from the opposite direction to that in the water-colour of c. 1825 in the Fitzwilliam Museum (Wilton 1979, p. 338 no. 764, repr.). However, William Hoade has very kindly informed us in advance of the publication of his forthcoming book Turner in Dorset that he has identified the scene as Bridport, Dorset, seen from the high tide mark below Thorncombe Beacon, looking east. There is a pencil sketch of what appear to be the same cliffs, done in 1811 in the ‘Corfe to Dartmouth’ sketchbook (CXXIV-29) and the cliffs are also seen, from a slightly different viewpoint, in the watercolour done for Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England and engraved by W.B. Cooke in 1820 (Bury Art Gallery, repr. Wilton 1979, p. 353 no. 465, and, in colour, Shanes 19812, pl. 32). If this latter identification is correct then the date of the picture could be rather earlier than suggested here, say c. 1815–20.

The original paint and ground is missing down the right-hand edge and along the right-hand quarter of the bottom edge.

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984

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