Joseph Mallord William Turner

Views of the English Coast


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCVIII 80 a

Catalogue entry

The views on this page all come from plate 1 of The Little Sea Torch, an illustrated maritime text by Richard Bougard, translated from the French by J.T. Serres and published in London in 1801.1 For more detailed information about the publication, and an interrogation of Turner’s use of it, see the sketchbook Introduction. For a comprehensive list of the other pages in this sketchbook used for the same purpose, see the entry for folio 55 recto (D17296).
Turner renders these views in the same order as that in which they appear in the printed book. Most of Finberg’s identifications for the transcribed inscriptions are correct.2 First, at the top of the page, is a description of the topography at Start Point in Devon, in emulation of ‘The Start Point N.E.bN’.3 The sketch is inscribed at top right ‘Start NE N’. Earlier in the sketchbook Turner transcribes different views of this headland on folio 56 recto (D17298). For further information about the location see the entry for that page.
Next is a drawing inscribed with the identification ‘Bolt Hd WSW’. The direction from which the scene is actually taken deviates slightly from Turner’s inscription. The title given to the illustration of the Devon headland in The Little Sea Torch is: ‘The Bolt Head. W.N.W’.4 In almost all of the other examples of these copied compositions, Turner omits any sailing vessels depicted in his source material. Here, three angular markings in front of the second cliff face from the left seem to record the position of the ship displayed in the original illustration. Further studies of illustrations of Bolt Head feature on folios 56 verso and 57 recto of the current sketchbook (D17299, D17300).
Moving down the page, a third drawing describes Dunnose Point, a headland off the Isle of Wight in the English Channel. One of the highest points on the island, some of its peaks reach 792 feet.5 Rocks in the waters around Dunnose Point are notoriously treacherous, and in 1878 caused the infamous sinking of HMS Eurydice.6 The original illustration in The Little Sea Torch is third on the plate, with the title ‘Dunnose. W.bN’.7 Turner copies it more or less faithfully, including delineating a slice of chalk cliff midway up the foregrounded section of land.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Richard Bougard, The Little Sea Torch: or, True Guide for Coasting Pilots: by which they are clearly instructed how to navigate along the coasts of Malta, Corsica, Sardinia, and others in the Straits; and of The Coast of Barbary, from Cape Bon to Cape de Verd, trans. with corrections and additions by John Thomas Serres, London 1801. For an online and PDF facsimile, see ‘The Little Sea Torch’, Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal,, accessed 26 October 2015.
Finberg 1909, I, p.606.
‘Plate 1’, The Little Sea Torch,, accessed 18 November 2015.
‘View of Dunnose from the Cliff near Shanklin in Sandown Bay, Isle of Wight’, The British Library, accessed 18 November 2015,
‘Plate 1’, The Little Sea Torch.

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop