Joseph Mallord William Turner

?South Foreland Lighthouse


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 187 × 113 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 67 a

Catalogue entry

Made with the page turned vertically, the drawings closest to the top edge of this sheet describe two lighthouses.1
South Foreland lighthouse as an isolated architectural structure dominates the top section of the page. Turner describes the lighthouse in great detail, from the domed tower facing the sea, to the adjoining, flat-roofed buildings which sit behind it. Windows and doorways are carefully picked out using fine lines. Decorative brickwork is even evident above the main window behind the tower. Turner studies this lighthouse elsewhere in the present sketchbook, the earliest example of which can be found on folio 8 recto (D17220). For a comprehensive history of the location, and a list of sketches which demonstrate Turner’s relationship with lighthouses as demonstrated in this sketchbook and argued by James Hamilton, see the entry for that page.2
To the left of the large drawing is another small sketch of the lighthouse, probably observed from a much greater distance. The detail has been stripped away, but the domed roof of the tower and its slim windows are still picked out in hasty lines.
A final drawing on this page has been made with the sketchbook turned vertically in the opposite direction. Here Turner depicts South Foreland lighthouse at right, situated within its surrounding topography, with the white chalk cliffs falling towards the sea on the far left.
Finberg 1909, I, p.606.
Hamilton 1998, pp.91, 133 note 22.
Technical notes:
A thumb or finger print marks the left edge of this page, towards the bottom.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

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