Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Defences at Portsmouth, with the Round Tower, Eighteen Gun Battery, Square Tower Semaphore Station and Other Buildings


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 160 × 100 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCVI 9

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, there are four studies here of the defences around Portsmouth Harbour. At the top are the Round Tower and the adjacent Eighteen Gun Battery, with a boat manoeuvring on the right. The second sketch is rather slight, but may be a general view of Gosport and Portsmouth from south of the harbour entrance. The third register shows the Round Tower again towards the left, with the Vulcan Block clock tower beyond to the north-east, and the tower at Baltic Wharf towards the right; below is effectively a continuation to the right showing the Square Tower semaphore station with Portsmouth Cathedral beyond and the Saluting Platform along the sea wall.
This is one of a continuous series of views around Portsmouth between folios 1 recto and 20 recto (D17913–D17951); many appear to have been made from a boat; for the overall sequence and details of the most prominent buildings and defences, see the Introduction. This page has been linked1 to the watercolours Portsmouth of about 1824 (Lady Lever Art Galley, Port Sunlight),2 engraved in 1825 for Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England (Tate impressions: T04419, T05302–T05304, T05994), and Portsmouth of about 1824–5 (Tate D18152; Turner Bequest CCVIII S),3 engraved in 1828 for The Ports of England, and reissued in 1856 in The Harbours of England (Tate impressions: T04833, T04834); the connection in this case is only in terms of the general subject, as the buildings are shown in different juxtapositions.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

See Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.94, re Ports and Southern Coast, Wilton 1979, p.387, re Ports, Shanes 1981, p.153, re Southern Coast and Ports, and Shanes 2001, p.159, re Ports.
Wilton 1979, p.354 no.477, reproduced.
Ibid., p.387 no.756, reproduced.

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