Joseph Mallord William Turner

St Ives from Man’s Head

1811

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 141 × 215 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D41364
Turner Bequest CXXV a 82

Catalogue entry

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 incorrectly as ‘Penzance (?)’ in a manuscript listing,1 while C.F. Bell described it in his own notes as ‘Bay divided by headlands’.2 Figures usually corresponding to Finberg’s MS catalogue page numbers, which differ from Bell’s sequence, are inscribed on the verso of most sheets.
Although four views of St Ives have been bound consecutively earlier in the book as folios 47 recto, 48 recto, 49 recto and 50 recto (D41326–D41329), C.F. Bell did not recognise the present drawing as a related view of what he called a ‘seaport town’, and placed it with other unidentified subjects towards the end of his sequence. Finberg recognised its connection with the other four, but tentatively identified them all as Penzance.
As a result, this sketch does not seem to have been published as a St Ives subject until Donald Dodds, prompted by the opening of Tate St Ives in 1993, contacted Cecilia Powell to identify it as showing the town distant from Carthew Quarry,3 on Man’s Head (Carrack Dhu). The view is east across Porthmeor Beach towards the Island, which features in the other St Ives views. There has been much development since Turner’s time: Barnoon Hill, to the right, is now covered with buildings and the town’s cemetery, with Tate St Ives on the site of a former gasworks above the beach at its foot. Above is a delicate continuation of the coast running north-west beyond the left of the main drawing.
Eric Shanes has related this sketch to a ‘colour beginning’ (Tate D25185; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 63), which he tentatively identifies as showing Land’s End with Longships Lighthouse (for which see under folio 22 recto; D08941; CXXV 50, bound as CXXV a 22) or, at Ian Warrell’s suggestion, St Ives.4 Its resemblance to the present view is inexact and perhaps fortuitous; at the time of writing the colour sketch is designated as ‘Scene (possibly Folkestone)’.
1
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) 25.
2
C.F. Bell, MS addenda, [after 1928], tipped into a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, p.356C, as CXXVa 82.
3
Powell 1993, p.15.
4
Shanes 1997, pp.94, 98

Matthew Imms
July 2011

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