Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Kent Coast from Folkestone Harbour to Dover


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 350 × 510 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 103

Display caption

Some of Turner’s freely executed seascapes relate to finished, more detailed works. This preparatory study lays down the main tonal and compositional elements of a watercolour painting, Folkestone Harbour and Coast to Dover about 1829. The lighter area on the left corresponds to the line of cliffs extending into the distance.

The watercolour was subsequently engraved as part of the topographical published series, Picturesque Views in England and Wales (see print on display nearby).

Gallery label, July 2008

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Catalogue entry

This relatively muted colour study has been proposed by Eric Shanes as the ‘basic colour structure’1 for the setting of the watercolour Folkestone Harbour and Coast to Dover of about 1829 (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven),2 engraved in 1831 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04570, T04571).3
David Hill has described the status of Shanes’s identification as ‘not proven or positively dubious’,4 but the fundamental elements of the broad beach and receding cliffs appear to correspond closely, ‘although the sky here is greyer, darker and more clouded’5 and there is, as usual with such ‘colour beginnings’, no sign of the prominent figures engaged in anti-smuggling activities in the foreground of the finished design.6
Shanes has suggested that a colour study with a similar background but a rough sea is a variant design (Tate D36327; Turner Bequest CCCLXV 36). A further work has been proposed as a Folkestone view among other possibilities (Tate D25185; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 63). See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
Shanes 1997, p.21.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.396 no.826, reproduced.
Shanes 1997, pp.44, 96, 105.
Hill 1997, p.7.
Shanes 1997, p.44.
Discussed ibid., pp.44–5.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘AB 93 P | O’ and CCLXIII.103’ bottom right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram above ‘CCLXIII – 103’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


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