Joseph Mallord William Turner

Stonehenge from the North-East, with the Sun Setting beyond the Heel Stone


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 181 × 222 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXV b 12

Catalogue entry

The circle is seen from east of the Heel Stone, prominent on the right by the side of the Warminster-Amesbury road. Peter Egri notes Turner ‘has added eye, nose, mouth and ear to a rough rock which glances with a brooding air at the cultic stones of the ancient structure. The image appears to be a merry and funny caricature of the artist’s mysterious symbols.’1 Similar pock-marks and fissures remain visible on its weathered surface today and it has also been compared to a ‘smiling dolphin’.2 Just to the left of the Heel Stone is a disk probably indicating the setting sun, as also shown from the south-east on folio 10 recto (D41383); there is an illegible word at the top right between two strokes possibly indicating sunbeams. Folios 9 recto–15 recto (D41382–D41388) all show Stonehenge; for Turner’s other views of the monument, see the introduction to the sketchbook.
As discussed there, the pages 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 as ‘Stonehenge’ in a manuscript list,3 while C.F. Bell described it in his own notes as ‘Stonehenge, the “Friar’s Heel” to right’.4 Figures corresponding to Finberg’s MS catalogue page numbers, which differ from Bell’s sequence, are inscribed on the verso of each sheet.
Egri 1991, p.141.
Christopher Chippindale, ‘Stonehenge Observed’ in Visions of Stonehenge 1350–1987, exhibition catalogue, Southampton City Art Gallery 1987, p.4.
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.357, as CXXV(b) 7.
C.F. Bell, MS addenda, [after 1928], tipped into a copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, p.356D, as CXXVB 12.
Technical notes:
The sheet is wrinkled, possibly as a result of exposure to damp. There are brown stains showing through from the back of the sheet, affecting the left-hand side of the drawing.
Blank, save for inscription by Edwin Fagg in pencil ‘211 | 7’ bottom right (partly trimmed). There are glue stains at the corners of the sheet, and brown irregular stains to the centre right, which show through to the recto.

Matthew Imms
May 2010

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