Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sailing Boats off the Square Tower Semaphore Station and in the Harbour at Portsmouth


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 160 × 100 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCVI 1

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, there are four similar, rapid studies here. At the top is a sailing boat off what seems to be the semaphore station above the Square Tower on the east side of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour. The three remaining sketches appear to be variations of the view out from a little way into the harbour, looking south with Old Portsmouth on the left and Gosport on the right. The sun is indicated towards the left in the lower two.
This is the first of a continuous series of views around Portsmouth, the last being on folio 20 recto (D17951); many appear to have been made from a boat; for the overall sequence and details of the most prominent buildings and defences, see the Introduction. This page has been linked1 to the watercolours Portsmouth of about 1824 (Lady Lever Art Galley, Port Sunlight),2 engraved in 1825 for Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England (Tate impressions: T04419, T05302–T05304, T05994), and Portsmouth of about 1824–5 (Tate D18152; Turner Bequest CCVIII S),3 engraved in 1828 for The Ports of England, and reissued in 1856 in The Harbours of England (Tate impressions: T04833, T04834). The connection in this case is very slight, in terms of the tower in the topmost study and the right-hand sides of the watercolours.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

See Wilton 1979, p.387, re Ports; Shanes 1981, p.153, re Southern Coast and Ports; and Shanes 2001, p.159, re Ports.
Wilton 1979, p.354 no.477, reproduced.
Ibid., p.387 no.756, reproduced.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like

In the shop