Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping off Portsmouth, with the Cathedral, Baltic Wharf and the Vulcan Block


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 2

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, there are at least eight slight sketches here of the waterfront and landmarks around Old Portsmouth, suggesting Turner was being rowed about in the harbour. At the top are a hulk and other vessels; next may be part of the Gosport blockhouse and other defences. Across the middle appear the dome of Portsmouth Cathedral, the tower at Baltic Wharf and (apparently) the Square Tower semaphore station. Next appears to be the Round Tower with Baltic Wharf and the Vulcan Block clock tower; lastly there is another slight view of the defences.
This is one of a continuous series of views around Portsmouth between folios 1 recto and 20 recto (D17913–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), but the connection in this case is only in terms of the general subject.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

See Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.94, re Ports and Southern Coast, 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.

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