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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Cliffs Near Scarborough c.1816-18

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 7 Recto:
Cliffs Near Scarborough c.1816–18
Turner Bequest CLI 17
Pencil on white wove paper, 116 x 182 mm
Inscribed by Turner in ink with some rough arithmetic (see main catalogue entry)
Inscribed by ?John Ruskin in red ink ‘169 Invent’ bottom left
Inscribed by an unknown hand in red ink ‘17’ bottom left, descending vertically
Stamped in brown ‘CLI 17’ bottom left, descending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
There is no single landmark in this sketch to specifically locate its subject, but the deep runnels, sharp crests and sheared-off buttresses are typical of the boulder clay cliffs to the south of Scarborough. It seems very likely that the sketch records the cliffs in the vicinity of the Black Rocks at the southerly end of the south bay at Scarborough, the site of the sketch on the verso (D11971); and moreover that the study informed Turner’s treatment of the cliffs in the finished watercolour of Scarborough (private collection)1 dated 1818.
The arithmetic, as follows, is mysterious:
     8   6 
    51   6 [perhaps a mistake for £1.5.6]  
 37     48 
The number ‘169’ is the number given to the sketchbook in the original schedule of the Turner Bequest. Also apparently inscribed is the folio number ‘17’. The notations suggest that the leaf was removed from the sketchbook, probably with some early exhibition in mind. In the event, the drawing does not appear to have been shown. The leaf was rebound in its present position.

David Hill
September 2008

Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.360 no.529.

How to cite

David Hill, ‘Cliffs Near Scarborough c.1816–18 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2008, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, September 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-cliffs-near-scarborough-r1146982, accessed 18 August 2019.