Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Laira (Plym Estuary) near Saltram Park with Plymouth Beyond


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 75 × 117 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXIII 104 a

Catalogue entry

Having passed through Plympton (see folios 104 verso and 106 verso; D08561, D08565; CXXIII 101a, 103a), Turner here sketches the view south-west towards Plymouth (see under folio 3 verso; D08367) along the Laira (the Plym Estuary). Mount Batten and the Citadel are indicated in the distance with Mount Edgcumbe beyond. There is a sequence of sketches from similar viewpoints in the neighbourhood of Boringdon Park in the later Devon Rivers, No.2 sketchbook (Tate D09715–D09716; Turner Bequest CXXXIII 39, 40, 41), as well as an oil sketch, perhaps made on the same occasion in 1813 (Tate D09211; Turner Bequest CXXX E).1
The exact viewpoint is difficult to establish owing to later development including housing and dual carriageways in the foreground. Saltram Park is on the slopes to the left; Turner drew the house in the contemporary Cornwall and Devon sketchbook (Tate D41277; Turner Bequest CXXV a 2). The fortification on the summit to the right is Clarke’s Battery.2

Matthew Imms
June 2011

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.133 no.213, pl.218 (colour).
See Sam Smiles, ‘The Devonshire Oil Sketches of 1813’, Turner Studies, vol.9, no.1, Summer 1989, p.14.

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