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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Fortifications on the ?Italian Coast c.1828-37

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Fortifications on the ?Italian Coast c.1828–37
Turner Bequest CCLIX 141
Watercolour on buff wove paper, 140 x 188 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLIX – 141’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The subject, fortified buildings high above a rocky shore, is unidentified, but may be Italian; see the Introduction to this section for further brief discussion and dating. Finberg’s tentative 1909 Inventory title ‘Sorrento Coast (?)’,1 following John Ruskin’s suggestion;2 Ruskin’s further remarks are limited to ‘Sunset. Lovely.’3 Sorrento overlooks the Bay of Naples, and Turner drew there in 1819, in the Pompeii, Amalfi, &c. sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CLXXXV), although he did not venture so far again on his return to Italy in 1828 or subsequently.
The use of tinted paper and strong colour suggests the later date, and Lindsay Stainton Andrew Wilton have suggested Monaco,4 the principality on the French Riviera near the Italian border; Turner passed along the Mediterranean coast in 1828 as he travelled to Rome, and there are a few drawings in the Marseilles to Genoa sketchbook (compare Tate D21192; Turner Bequest CCXXXI 31). A consecutively numbered sheet has been identified as showing the Priamar Fortress at Savona, along the coast of north-western Italy (Tate D24705; Turner Bequest CCLIX 140), and this view is possibly in the vicinity, or near Genoa (see under Tate D33718; Turner Bequest CCXLI 39), where the possibility of a Mediterranean visit in 1837 is noted.
See Finberg 1909, II, p.797.
See Cook and Wedderburn 1904, pp.386, 616.
Ibid., p.386.
See Stainton 1983, p.75, and Wilton 1986, p.218.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLIX.141’ bottom centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLIX – 141’ below centre.

Matthew Imms
February 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Fortifications on the ?Italian Coast c.1828–37 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, February 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-fortifications-on-the-italian-coast-r1182957, accessed 30 May 2024.