Joseph Mallord William Turner

Town on Coast


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVII 52 a

Catalogue entry

This page contains various studies of the coast of Berwick-upon-Tweed. These were made on 11 August 1831, probably between nine in the morning when Robert Cadell (who had accompanied the artist from Abbotsford) left on a coach for Edinburgh, and two in the afternoon, when Turner himself had planned to leave the town.1 Having got his principal sketch of the town (folios 48 verso–49; D26009–D26010; CCLXVII 48a–49) which would form the basis of his watercolour, Berwick-upon-Tweed circa 1832 (whereabouts unknown),2 Turner made a series of additional studies.
At the top of the page is a rough sketch that may show Berwick from near the coast. Beneath is another rather slight sketch with a spire that may be the Town Hall, making this a view of the town from Tweedmouth. Across the lower half of the page is a sketch of the pier at Berwick with its 1826 lighthouse (still standing) and the coast of Spittal beyond. The sketch must have been made from the beach at the east of the town. There is another tiny sketch of the lighthouse, this time seen from the opposite direction, at the top right of the page with the sketchbook turned to the right. In this orientation there are also two further sketches. One shows the half-cylinder platform at the corner of the quay at the very south of the town by the Tweed estuary. Finally, beneath this is a very faint sketch, probably of the quay.
There are further studies of the Berwick Coast on folios 34 verso–35, and 40 verso–41 (D25985–D25986, D25995–D25996; CCLXVII 34a–35, 40a–41).

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Robert Cadell, ‘Abbotsford Diary’, Thursday 11 August 1831, National Library of Scotland, MS Acc.5188, Box 1, folio 111 verso; transcribed in Gerald E. Finley, ‘J.M.W. Turner and Sir Walter Scott: Iconography of a Tour’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol.31, 1972, p.385.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.430 1092.

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