Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sea Fortifications or Ruined Castle, with Fishermen in the Foreground


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache on paper
Support: 283 × 193 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 112

Catalogue entry

This study has been connected to a proposed but ultimately abandoned print project known as ‘Picturesque Views on the East Coast of England’; for more information about this project see the Introduction to this section. Although this sheet did not result in a finished drawing or print for the series, its coastal subject matter, vignette format and blue paper support suggest a connection. Jan Piggott has tentatively suggested that the subject may be Lowestoft.1 A finished drawing of Lowestoft lighthouse was made for the ‘East Coast’series (Pantzer Collection, Indianapolis Museum of Art2), so the town was certainly included within Turner’s subject matter for the scheme. However, while the finished watercolour is based on a drawing of the lighthouse in the Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex sketchbook (see Tate D18225; Turner Bequest CCIX 35 a), the tall building seen in the present colour study is not readily identifiable from the views of Lowestoft recorded in this sketchbook.
The foreground of this study includes boats, fishermen with nets and a horse and cart. This is very much in keeping with Turner’s finished watercolours for the proposed ‘East Coast’ series, which include reference to the fishing activities and related commerce of the coastal areas depicted.
Piggott 1993, p.96.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.405 no.896.
Blank, save for some horizontal marks, possibly caused by water, and inscription in pencil: ‘AB 23 P / o’.

Elizabeth Jacklin
August 2018

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