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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Wookey Hole; the Somerset Coast from Cheddar 1811

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 121 Recto:
Wookey Hole; the Somerset Coast from Cheddar 1811
Turner Bequest CXXIII 118
Pencil on white wove writing paper, 75 x 117 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Wooky’ top left, descending vertically, and ‘[?Chedder]’ bottom centre, and in ink ‘Oer the’ bottom right, upside down
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘118’ bottom right, descending vertically
Stamped in black ‘CXXIII – 118’ bottom left, descending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The page is divided into two by a pencil line. In the upper half is a rough, vigorous sketch drawn with the page turned vertically, showing rock formations at Wookey Hole, just north-west of Wells in Somerset. The dark patch towards the foot of the sketch may be the entrance to the caves below the limestone cliffs from which the Rive Axe emerges.
The inscription under the lower drawing indicates Cheddar, site of the famous gorge, about eight miles north-west of Wells and ten inland from the coast at Weston-super-Mare. The viewpoint of this slight sketch appears to be the steep slopes around Bradley Cross east of the village, with the tower of St Andrew’s church and a rather compressed view westwards to the sea, with the islands of Steep Holm (left) and Flat Holm (centre) in the Bristol Channel and the Mendip Hills rising on the right. There are eight view of Cheddar Gorge in the Stonehenge sketchbook (Tate D41374–D41381; Turner Bequest CXXV b 1–8), and a view from here or nearby towards Glastonbury on folio 122 verso (D08595; CXXIII 119a). Flat Holm and Steep Holm also feature in the distance on folios 19 verso (D08398) and 166 recto (D08673; CXXIII 163).
The words in ink are the same as those at the beginning of the draft of poetry on folio 120 verso opposite (D08591; CXXIII 117a). Turner inscribed most of the extensive verse in this book on the blank versos of the printed pages of Coltman’s British Itinerary interleaved in it, and seems to have started to write on this page before realising he meant to begin opposite.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Wookey Hole; the Somerset Coast from Cheddar 1811 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 2011, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-wookey-hole-the-somerset-coast-from-cheddar-r1137069, accessed 16 January 2021.