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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Portsmouth Harbour from the Quebec Baths 1827

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 10 Recto:
Portsmouth Harbour from the Quebec Baths 1827
Turner Bequest CCXXVII 10
Pencil on white wove paper prepared with a grey wash, 110 x 185 mm
Partial watermark ‘J & R A | 18’
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Quebec [?Baths]’ towards bottom right
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘10’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCXXVII – 10’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The view is north up the eastern shore of the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, from the Point. The note apparently reading ‘Quebec Baths’ refers to the building still standing as Quebec House on the waterfront off Bath Square, north of the Round Tower; it was built by public subscription for a form of indoor sea bathing, with pipes channelling fresh seawater inside from the harbour with each tide.1 Turner had drawn and noted it in the distance from the other direction in the course of a sustained survey of Portsmouth and Gosport, probably in 1824, in the London Bridge and Portsmouth sketchbook (Tate D17944; Turner Bequest CCVI 16a).
The feature in the distance here is apparently the semaphore tower at the naval dockyard (described in the introduction to the London Bridge and Portsmouth book), with the masts of warships moored in the harbour. Turner was presumably at Portsmouth on this occasion in the course of travelling to or from the Isle of Wight (see under folio 2 recto; D20735), and had time to make studies of several aspects of the area, on folios 22 verso, 23 verso, 24 verso, 31 verso, 37 verso, and 38 recto and verso (D20766, D20768, D20770, D20777, D20788–D20790; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 22, 23, 24, 29, 35a, 36, 36a).

Matthew Imms
November 2015

See ‘Quebec House, Old Portsmouth’, Hampshire History, accessed 16 December 2014, http://www.hampshire-history.com/quebec-house-old-portsmouth/.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Portsmouth Harbour from the Quebec Baths 1827 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 2015, 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-portsmouth-harbour-from-the-quebec-baths-r1182614, accessed 20 May 2024.