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: 373 × 555 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXV 36

Catalogue entry

This colour study has been noted by Eric Shanes as perhaps a variation on the composition of the watercolour Folkestone Harbour and Coast to Dover of about 1829 (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven),1 engraved in 1831 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04570, T04571).2 The foreground of another ‘colour beginning’ (Tate D25225; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 103) suggests the calm sea and level beach of the finished design, though the cliffs in the background of the present work, with its vigorous breakers, are similar in profile, so Turner might have been experimenting with the setting here to add drama to his scene of anti-smuggling operations.3 In view of the uncertainty of its identification, the work has continued to be exhibited under Finberg’s title, ‘A stormy sea’. A further colour study has been proposed as a Folkestone view among other possibilities (Tate D25185; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 63).
There are slight pencil indications of what may be masts or sails to the right of the centre. Andrew Wilton has compared the wave forms here in stylistic terms4 to those in the finished England and Wales watercolours Lyme Regis, Dorset of about 1834 (Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio),5 engraved in 1836 (Tate impression: T04605), and Lowestoffe, Suffolk of about 1835 (British Museum, London),6 engraved in 1837 (Tate impressions: T05100, T06122).
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.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.396 no.826, reproduced.
Shanes 1997, pp.97, 107.
Discussed in Shanes 1997, pp.44–5.
Wilton 1980, p.153.
Wilton 1979, p.401 no.866, reproduced.
Ibid., p.401 no.869, reproduced.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower notes that this is a watercolour paper made by William Balston at the Springfield Mill, Maidstone, Kent, and is half an Imperial-format sheet (averaging 22 x 30 inches, or 558 x 762 mm).1 Shanes records Bower’s further observation that that the other half was used for another colour study (Tate D25129; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 7).2
Bower 1999, p.49, with the watermark given as ‘j whatman / 1829’.
Shanes 1997, pp.79, 92 note 68.1, 94, 95, 98.
Blank; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram above ‘CCCLXV – 36’ bottom right. The surface is rubbed and darkened, particularly at towards the left- and right-hand edges.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop