Joseph Mallord William Turner

St Mawes Harbour


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 166 x 208 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXV 30

Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes has noted this sketch, misidentified by Finberg as showing nearby Falmouth, as a source for the watercolour St Mawes, Cornwall of about 1823 (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven),1 engraved in 1824 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England2 (see the concordance of the series in the 1811 tour introduction).
Shanes also mentions a contemporary drawing in the smaller Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate D08620; Turner Bequest CXXIII 133),3 which he has described as having a ‘very slight’ relationship4 with a second, untraced watercolour with the same title, of about 1828,5 engraved in 1830 for the later series Picturesque Views in England and Wales; it nevertheless contains the main elements of topography and activity seen in both watercolours. Turner had initially painted a version in oils, St Mawes in the Pilchard Season, which he exhibited at his gallery in 1812 (Tate N00484).6
The present drawing was made from the shore curving south-east from St Mawes, and includes the pier enclosing its harbour, its castle, and Pendennis Castle aligned to the south-west beyond. The Devonshire Coast, No.1 drawing, complete with figures and a note about ‘fish’, was made within the harbour itself, with a consequent lateral compression of the relationship of the town and the two castles. While the oil and the England and Wales watercolour reflect that arrangement, the Southern Coast version employs the more expansive, distant viewpoint of the present sketch, albeit with the harbour-side fish and figures transferred to the beach in the foreground.
For other views in the area, including Falmouth and Pendennis Castle, see under folio 25 verso (D08901; CXXV 24a).
This sheet was formerly identified as Turner Bequest CXXV 17, and perhaps bound elsewhere in the book – see the catalogue entries for the verso (D40816), and for D08886 and D08887 (CXXV 17 and its verso).

Matthew Imms
February 2011

Wilton 1979, p.354 no.473, reproduced.
Shanes 1981, p.152, and 1990, pp.64 under no.40, 283 note 34; see also Smiles 1988, pp.54, 57 note 2.
Eric Shanes, Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales 1825–1838, London 1979, p.155.
Wilton 1979, p.396 no.823.
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.87 no.123, pl.129; present drawing mentioned in general listing of Falmouth and St Mawes drawings, Joll and Butlin 1982, p.101, and Butlin and Jull 1984, p.87.

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