Joseph Mallord William Turner

St Ives from above Porthminster Beach


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 140 × 215 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXV a 50

Catalogue entry

This, Turner’s most distant view of St Ives, is from above Porthminster Beach (where the railway to St Erth now runs), looking north with the Island crowned by its chapel beyond the harbour. From near the beacon to the right of the chapel Turner drew a view in the opposite direction on folio 47 recto (D41326). A drawing from Porthminster Beach itself on folio 48 recto (D41327) was presumably made immediately before or after the present work. Here he retains some elements of that view, while introducing the distant Godrevy Island and the coast to the north-east – which also appear on folio 49 recto (D41328) – in a typically condensed panorama. On the verso of the present leaf (D41330) there is what seems to be a further slight sketch of Godrevy.
This is the last of four consecutive, detailed drawings of St Ives and its surroundings (see also folios 47, 48 and 49 recto; D41326–D41328), the identification of which has been credited to the contemporary St Ives artist Roy Ray;1 there is a further view bound towards the end of the book (folio 82 recto; D41364).
As discussed in the introduction, the pages of this ‘sketchbook’ appear to have originally been loose sheets, and are not recorded in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory of the Bequest, although he subsequently noted the subject mistakenly as ‘Penzance (?)’ in a manuscript listing,2 while C.F. Bell described it in his own notes as ‘Seaport town with church with square tower’.3 Figures usually corresponding to Finberg’s MS catalogue page numbers, which differ from Bell’s sequence, are inscribed on the verso of most sheets.
Brown in Lewis and Brown 1985, p.97.
A.J. Finberg, MS addenda, [circa 1928–39], tipped into a copy of his A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, opposite p.356, as CXXV(a) 27.
C.F. Bell, MS addenda, [after 1928], tipped into a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, p.356B, as CXXVa 50; entry later annotated in other hands ‘Dartmouth?’ and ‘?St Ives’.
Technical notes:
The sheet is slightly wrinkled, possibly as a result of exposure to damp.

Matthew Imms
July 2011

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