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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner ?Martello Towers c.1827

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
?Martello Towers c.1827
Tate CCCLXIV 407
Gouache and watercolour on blue paper, 192 x 281 mm
Stamped in black ‘CCCLXIV-407’ bottom right
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram bottom right
Inscribed in red ink bottom left (now illegible; see technical notes in main catalogue entry)
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The Turner Bequest’s first cataloguer, A.J. Finberg, suggested that this view shows some ‘Martello towers’, a name for small coastal forts built during the then-recent Napoleonic Wars. A page in the c.1824 Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex sketchbook (Tate D18272; Turner Bequest CCIX 59a) includes sketches of a Martello tower seen at Aldeburgh on the east coast, and various other Martello towers can be glimpsed within Turner’s work.
This loosely rendered and possibly significantly water-damaged study on blue paper has been connected to a proposed but ultimately abandoned print project known as ‘Picturesque Views on the East Coast of England’; for more information about this project see the Introduction to this section. Although this sheet did not result in a finished watercolour or print for the series, its blue paper support and coastal subject matter suggest it may have been made with the project in mind.
Technical notes:
The inscription in red ink in the lower left is blurred to the point of illegibility, apparently due to water damage. It seems likely that significant damage occurred to this sheet during the 1928 flood at the Tate Gallery, particularly given the drawing’s rather ghostly appearance and other water damage visible on the lower part of the sheet.
The verso could not be examined at the time of cataloguing due to an enclosed mount.

Elizabeth Jacklin
August 2018

How to cite

Elizabeth Jacklin, ‘?Martello Towers c.1827 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2018, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2019, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-martello-towers-r1195903, accessed 23 April 2024.