Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Nelson Monument, Great Yarmouth; Views of Great Yarmouth


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 118 × 115 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCIX 29

Catalogue entry

This sheet shows views of Great Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast. With the sketchbook turned horizontally, Turner has drawn prospects of the port and coastline across the page. The uppermost view shows sailors and fishermen gathered at shore with Nelson’s Monument in the distance at right. Below is a view of Yarmouth, including the profile of St Nicholas’ Church and the old pier. Further sketches of the Monument follow. Similar drawings are found on Tate D18207, D18209–D18211; Turner Bequest CCIX 26a, 27a–28a.
With the sketchbook turned vertically, a large study of Nelson’s Monument and a separate drawing of Britannia can be seen. The Monument is a commemorative column built in the Doric style between 1817 and 1819 in memory of Admiral Horatio Nelson.1 It is topped with six caryatid figures which support a statue of Britannia standing atop a globe. She holds an olive branch in her outstretched hand, a trident in the other and looks toward the mainland. The globe on which Britannia stands is inscribed with a motto from Nelson’s coat of arms: ‘Palmam Qui Meruit Ferat’ (‘Let Him who has Merited it Take the Palm’).2 Turner has attempted to transcribe this at the base of the sketch of Britannia. The artist has also written parts of the inscriptions from the base of monument: ‘Vanguard’, ‘Aboukir’, ‘Elephant’ and ‘Copenhagen’. They refer to HMS Vanguard deployed in the Battle of the Nile at Aboukir Bay (1798) and HMS Elephant in the Battle of Copenhagen (1801). These were naval battles won by the British against the French and Danish-Norwegian fleets respectively.
These sketches were preparatory material for the watercolour design of Yarmouth engraved in 1829 for the England and Wales series (see Tate impression T04547).3

Alice Rylance-Watson
January 2015

‘Seven Wonders Nelson Monument’, Visit Norfolk, accessed 9 January 2015,
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.394 no.810.

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