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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Plymouth Sound with Shipping off Mount Edgcumbe 1813

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 10 Recto:
Plymouth Sound with Shipping off Mount Edgcumbe 1813
Turner Bequest CXXXI 10
Pencil on white wove paper, 95 x 157 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in blue ink ‘10’ bottom right, descending vertically, and ‘6’ bottom left, descending vertically
Stamped in black ‘CXXXI – 10’ bottom left, descending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Eric Shanes has identified this sketch south from Devil’s Point with boats in Barn Pool below Mount Edgcumbe, made with the page turned horizontally, as the source for the right-hand half of the untraced watercolour Plymouth Sound of about 1813,1 engraved in 1815 for The Rivers of Devon, but not published until 1823 (Tate impressions: Tate T06010, T05786; see the concordance of the series in the Introduction to the 1813 West Country tour).2 Similar shipping appears in the engraved design, while the left-hand half was based on the drawing on folio 9 recto (D09226). It is unusual for Turner to use two consecutive pages in a ‘portrait’-format sketchbook turned sideways to record a wide view of a single scene, his usual practice being to use a double-page spread in a ‘landscape’-format book, but presumably he did not have one to hand.
The drawing made nearby on folio 8 recto (D09225) was the basis of a companion Rivers of Devon design showing Plymouth Citadel. The subjects as far as folio 127 recto (D09358) are all identified or presumed sites within a few miles in and around Plymouth, suggesting a series of fairly short excursions.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.350 no.441; unspecified ‘drawings of the Sound’ in this sketchbook ‘probably used for’ no.441 are mentioned ibid., under no.440.
Shanes 1981, p.43, and 1990, p.263.
Technical notes:
There is some brown staining towards the lower left and a small mark in blue ink or watercolour at the centre of the bottom edge, possibly made accidentally when Turner consulted the sketch for his watercolour.

Matthew Imms
April 2014

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Plymouth Sound with Shipping off Mount Edgcumbe 1813 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 2014, 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-plymouth-sound-with-shipping-off-mount-edgcumbe-r1147954, accessed 06 May 2021.