J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Watermill and Bridge, Possibly at St John, near Plymouth c.1813

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
A Watermill and Bridge, Possibly at St John, near Plymouth c.1813
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 242
Gouache and watercolour on white wove paper, 159 x 245 mm
Inscribed in red ink ‘242’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 242’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This study, worked up tonally to suggest the chiaroscuro effect of light falling from the right in somewhat disconnected areas of muted colour without underlying pencil work, is, as Eric Shanes recognised, based directly on a pencil drawing in the Plymouth, Hamoaze sketchbook (Tate D09252; Turner Bequest CXXXI 33), made in 1813 rather than 1811 as he implies in suggesting a date for the present work.1 He tentatively identified the subject, then in Devon but now in Cornwall, as ‘?St John, near Plymouth’2 without further comment, and this identification remains unconfirmed. Finberg titled the drawing as ‘House, with water-wheel, beside bridge’, and the present development from it as ‘The path up the hill’.3
St John is near Antony, south of the St Germans or Lynher River west of Plymouth; a sequence of views around Trematon Castle, north of the river, begins shortly after the relevant drawing in the Plymouth, Hamoaze book, on Tate D09255 (Turner Bequest CXXXI 36), and subsequent subjects are all identified or presumed sites within a few miles in and around Plymouth, suggesting a series of fairly short excursions.
Shanes has linked this subject and two other ‘stylistically similar, rather monochromatic representations of shorelines and inlets near Plymouth’ (Tate D25366, D25386; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 244, 263) with Turner’s work on the Southern Coast project4 (see the Introduction to this section).
See Shanes 1997, pp.28, 94, 102.
Ibid., pp.94, 102.
Finberg 1909, I, p.367, and II, p.832.
Shanes 1997, p.28; see also pp.94, 102.
Technical notes:
There are light pencil marks, presumably made as guides for mounting the sheet, although no early exhibition history is recorded.
Blank; laid down.

Matthew Imms
July 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘A Watermill and Bridge, Possibly at St John, near Plymouth c.1813 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, July 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, February 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-watermill-and-bridge-possibly-at-st-john-near-plymouth-r1184403, accessed 20 May 2024.