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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Buildings Overlooking a Beach, Possibly at Brighton or Deal c.1824-5

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Buildings Overlooking a Beach, Possibly at Brighton or Deal c.1824–5
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 270
Watercolour on white wove paper, 187 x 228 mm
Watermark ‘John Hall’ and blind-stamped with crown over ‘BATH’ in octagonal cartouche
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram centre right
Inscribed in red ink ‘270’ bottom right (faint)
Stamped in black ‘CCCLXIV – 270’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Eric Shanes has suggested that this loose, atmospheric ‘colour beginning’ of buildings and beached boats may relate to either of two subjects among Turner’s Southern Coast designs (see the Introduction to this section).1 A watercolour of Brighton made in about 1824 (Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton and Hove),2 was engraved in 1825 as Brightonhelmston, Sussex (Tate impressions: T04420–T04421, T05288–T05996); another, Deal, Kent of about 1825 (Deal Town Council),3 was engraved in 1826 (T04422, T05236–T05237, T05998). They show the towns from off shore across choppy seas; the Brighton view has a bright, clearing sky with a rainbow, but the backdrop to Deal is dark with cloud over a bright horizon, although the beach recedes towards the right in that case.
Alternatively, the present work might be an idea for the concurrent Ports of England4 (see Alice Rylance-Watson’s ‘Ports of England c.1822–8’ section), for which Turner made another watercolour of Deal (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool),5 engraved in 1828 (no Tate impressions). Tate D25393 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 270), a similar composition6 on a sheet of the same size, watermarked 1824 and also folded down the centre, has been identified as showing the beach and pump house at Brighton, and was exhibited with the present work in that context in 2013.7 Rylance-Watson’s catalogue entry places it among the concurrent Ports of England material, while noting that it might just as well represent an idea for the Southern Coast.
Compare Tate D40305, looking along the beach to the Chain Pier in the left distance,8 on the other side of which is a colour study of Portsmouth which definitely relates to the Ports scheme (Tate D17758; Turner Bequest CCIII A). See also Tate D25133 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 11), a Brighton beach subject which has been connected with Turner’s later Picturesque View in England and Wales.
There is a related pencil drawing on the verso (D41484). Other colour studies linked to Brighton and Deal in the present section are Tate D25410, D25426 and D25437 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 287, 303, 314). Tate D25477 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 354) may represent an idea for a Southern Coast composition for Walmer Castle, near Deal.
See Shanes 1997, pp.94, 102.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.354 no.479.
Ibid., p.355 no.481.
See Shanes 1997, p.100.
Wilton 1979, p.388 no.758, reproduced.
See Shanes 1997, pp.100, 102.
Although neither is documented in Ian Warrell, Turner in Brighton, exhibition catalogue, Royal Pavilion, Brighton 2013.
Ibid., p.[4], reproduced in colour.
Technical notes:
Sharp folds are evident down the centre and horizontally about a sixth of the way up. Eric Shanes has drawn stylistic parallels between this study and numerous other ‘colour beginnings’ of coastal subjects (Tate D25365, D25383, D25393, D25410, D25422, D25426, D25437, D25477; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 243, 260, 270, 287, 299, 303, 314, 354), even suggesting they ‘may have been created during the same session of work’.1

Matthew Imms
July 2016

Shanes 1997, p.61

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Buildings Overlooking a Beach, Possibly at Brighton or Deal c.1824–5 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-buildings-overlooking-a-beach-possibly-at-brighton-or-deal-r1184417, accessed 25 June 2024.