Finding Turner Art for Guernsey
J.M.W. Turner was born at 26 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden on 23 April 1775. His father William was a barber and wig maker. His mother, Mary Marshall, came from a family of London butchers. Turner’s father boasted to his customers about how clever his son was and how good he was at drawing. He displayed his drawings around his shop and sold them for one to three shillings each.

By the age of 12 or 13, Turner was aware of his talent. He learned how to look by observing in Covent Garden market, the Long Acre carriage works, the colour grinders, print shops and life of the street. The River Thames gave him the opportunity to study boats and ships at work. He also learned about picture-making by copying engravings and the work of established artists including Edward Dayes, Michael Angelo Rooker and Paul Sandby.

“When I was a boy I used to lie for hours on my back watching the skies, and then go home and paint them; and there was a stall in Soho Bazaar where they sold drawing materials, and they used to buy my skies. They gave me 1s 6d for the small ones and 3s 6d for the larger ones. There’s many a young lady who’s got my sky to her drawing.”

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

JMW Turner, Self-Portrait c.1799, image used under creative commons licence courtesy of Tate Britain

At the age of just 14, Turner was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools after training with architect Thomas Hardwick and draughtsman Thomas Malton Jr. He would be associated with the Royal Academy for the rest of his life and gave many lectures. Over 60 years Turner travelled thousands of miles across Great Britain and Europe to sketch landscapes, and he was especially drawn to coasts. Getting around wasn’t easy at that time, and it often wasn’t possible to get to Europe because the Napoleonic Wars were going on.

Turner produced many sketchbooks, at home and on his travels. In them he jotted names and dates, materials and prices, methods and intentions and even recipes for medical treatments among the countless thousands of landscape and marine studies that were the sketchbooks’ main purpose. He worked very quickly on his sketchbooks. His architectural training encouraged him to take short cuts and use a ruler to make a tower straight. He would take advantage of the fact that most architecture is symmetrical and would draw only half or part of the building, making notes of any irregular details, and then move on to the next subject or point of view. From these sketchbooks, Turner made his finished watercolours at home.

Turner was usually commissioned by publishers to paint watercolours for travel guides. They were engraved so they could be reproduced.  In the mid-1790s Turner started to use oil paints. He would create artworks for annual exhibitions at the Royal Academy and covered many subjects, from classical themes to landscapes and contemporary history. In his many marine paintings you could feel the danger of the rough seas.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

CURRENTLY ONLY LOCATIONS IN GUERNSEY HAVE BEEN INSTALLED. OUR TEAM WILL BE INSTALLING THE REMAINING FRAMES SOON!

The Turner Trail is a self-guided art installation, featuring a series of 16 frames in Guernsey, Alderney, Sark and Herm, which position the sketches that J.M.W. Turner made during his visit to the islands in c.1832 in context with the view, allowing you to compare the scene today with the sketches made almost 200 years ago.

You can use the what three words links below to find each of the frame locations in the Bailiwick. Clicking on the link will show you a precise 3m x 3m location to help you find the frames, and you can then transfer that to your preferred map application to give you directions between each location.

Havelet Bay w3w.co/furnish.senses.league Town Church and Cow Lane w3w.co/sailors.breathy.tamed St Peter Port Harbour w3w.co/tycoons.hits.snore View Over St Peter Port w3w.co/vest.helper.idea First Tower w3w.co/pounding.wanted.trooper St Sampsons Harbour w3w.co/umpires.frames.bikers Vale Castle w3w.co/coached.starter.mugs Rocquaine Bay w3w.co/assure.undone.infomercial Petit Bot Bay w3w.co/bright.undermining.morale Doyle Monument w3w.co/examine.natural.entitle Clarence Battery and Soldiers Bay w3w.co/seaweed.cactus.pausing Herm Island, Boats at Harbour w3w.co/chalked.scorecard.islander Jethou and Herm w3w.co/harsher.backers.holidays Creux Harbour, Sark w3w.co/variances.linear.huskily La Coupée, Sark w3w.co/compositions.wardrobe.vies Les Casquets, Alderney w3w.co/frosty.rampages.blinker

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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Havelet Bay

In c.1832 J.M.W. Turner sketched several views of St Peter Port and Castle Cornet, some of them from this vantage point at Havelet Bay as you can see from the sketches presented here, courtesy of Tate Britain. Turner would often use the whole of the sketchbook, turning the book vertically and upside down.

The ‘’Moss” prints featured here were produced by Matthew Moss and prepared by the lithographer to the King, showing the landscapes of Guernsey between 1829 and 1840, around the same time as Turner’s visit in c.1832.

Nestled at the bottom of lower Hauteville you will find a rather unassuming blue plaque dedicated to local artist Peter Le Lievre. He was one of Guernsey’s best artists but was not well known outside of his native island. Unlike his better known contemporary, Paul Jacob Naftel, Peter Le Lievre never exhibited his paintings nor sought election to the Society of Water-Colour Artists. This painting offers further insight into the castle that Turner would have encountered, before it was connected to the island via the pier you see today.

Local artist James Colmer has captured several views of the bathing pools and the islands beyond from this same vantage point, inspired by Turner’s legacy, having admired him as a young artist.

Share your own responses to Turner’s sketches via the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
Joseph Mallord William Turner – known as William in his lifetime – was born at 26 Maiden Lane in Covent Garden, London, on 23 April 1775. His father William was a barber and wig maker. His mother, Mary Marshall, came from a family of London butchers. Turner’s parents had married in August 1773, when his father was 28 and his mother 34. On 6 September 1778 young William’s sister, Mary Ann, was baptised at St Paul’s, Covent Garden, but she sadly died when she was seven years old.

Did you know?
Although Turner’s date of birth is generally accepted as being 23 April 1775, his exact date of birth is unknown. Turner was very secretive about his private life, and it’s possible that he chose this date because it is St George’s Day as well as the date of Shakespeare’s birth (and death).

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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Town Church & Cow Lane

Viewing the sketches on the panel, you are presented with an insight into the history of this part of town. This collection of images show Cow Lane as it was in the 1800s, a steep cobbled lane down to the water’s edge, where cattle were landed for delivery to the nearby butchers before the market buildings were built. 

The waterfront today is at a much higher level, with the arch level now underground. The view of the arch to Cow Lane from the harbour shows the waterside view, around 1850, before the road was widened to take the increased traffic from the “New Harbour” which was completed in 1854.

Town Church is also featured; if you take a look inside the church you can compare the structures in the sketch with the church interior today and note the changes here too. 

Share your own responses to Turner’s sketches via the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
Turner’s father boasted to customers at his barber’s shop about how clever his young son was and how good he was at drawing. He displayed his son’s drawings around his shop and sold them for one to three shillings each. Young William also sold paintings at the market:

“When I was a boy I used to lie for hours on my back watching the skies, and then go home and paint them; and there was a stall in Soho Bazaar where they sold drawing materials, and they used to buy my skies. They gave me 1s 6d for the small ones and 3s 6d for the larger ones. There’s many a young lady who’s got my sky to her drawing.”

Due to his mother’s mental illness, Turner spent some of his childhood living with relatives. He went to school in New Brentford, Middlesex.

Did you know?
Known as William in his lifetime, Turner only started to sign his exhibited work as J.M.W. Turner after he became an Academician of the Royal Academy in 1802 – it sounded more impressive, and there were a lot of Turners about, including a sculpture student called William Turner and William Turner the theatrical entrepreneur. It was about this time that Turner made it quite clear that his middle name was Mallord and not Mallard. His mother’s family had originally been Mallards, and he signed letters with a drawing of a duck from time to time.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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St Peter Port Harbour

The key feature of this sketch is the lighthouse, which used to sit proudly on the careening hard, the pier that sits prominently in the centre of the sketch. There are a few images here that show the lighthouses that used to feature on the island’s harbour piers, prior to the castle emplacement and new jetty being built. 

You can also see a number of other sketches Turner created in the immediate vicinity. 

Take a walk and see if you can locate them, sharing your results using the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
At the age of just 14, Turner was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools after training with architect Thomas Hardwick and draughtsman Thomas Malton Jr. Turner’s father William received a bequest from a customer which he used to place his son with Thomas Malton Jr.

Turner would be associated with the Royal Academy for the rest of his life and gave many lectures there.

Did you know?
The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) was founded just eight years before Turner was born. From 1771-1837 it was housed in Somerset House on the Strand, before moving to Trafalgar Square. One hundred years after its foundation, the RA moved to Burlington House, Piccadilly, where it remains today.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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View Over St Peter Port

This elevated view over the town of St Peter Port offers the viewer a different perspective, with a number of vantage points in the paths and lanes nearby giving interesting views, and some of the featured images here presenting the same, alongside the original sketch Turner created.

Take a walk to find the viewpoints for yourself, sharing your results using the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
Turner produced many sketchbooks, at home and on his travels. In them he jotted names and dates, materials and prices, methods and intentions and even recipes for medical treatments among thousands of landscape and marine studies. He worked very quickly on his sketchbooks. The architect Charles Eastlake noted: “Turner made his sketches in pencil and by stealth.” Thanks to his architectural training, he could take advantage of the fact that most architecture is symmetrical and would draw only half or part of the building, making notes of any irregular details. From these sketchbooks, Turner made his finished watercolours at home. 

Did you know?
Most of Turner’s sketchbooks were expensively calf-bound with a leather spine, one or more brass clasps and occasionally gold tooling on the covers. His sketchbooks are mainly housed at Tate Britain, as they form a significant part of the Turner Bequest, which was left to the nation after the artist’s death.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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First Tower

First Tower used to enjoy a commanding position along Guernsey’s east coast, north of St Peter Port. Clearly the tower was present during J.M.W. Turner’s visit in c.1832, evident in the sketches facing both south and north on the same page of the sketchbook.

The photographs show the tower in context with the Guernsey Tram which used to run up and down the seafront. Sadly the tower ultimately made way for the new tram shed, however the lane that now runs down the side of Ian Brown’s cycle shop, next door to the current bus depot, still carries the name First Tower Lane.

In the painting by Peter Le Lievre you can get a sense of the landscape that Turner would have encountered. Compare the two and share your own comparison images using the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
Over 60 years Turner travelled thousands of miles on his sketching tours. From his early twenties he would travel in the summer, sketching and finding inspiration, then he would return home to develop his paintings during the winter. Between 1790 and 1817 Turner came to know Great Britain in a way that few of his peers did. From 1817 he ventured to Europe, where he travelled nearly every year until 1845 when he could no longer manage it. Turner was especially drawn to coasts, and he is known to be a keen angler. 

Did you know?
Getting around wasn’t easy in Turner’s time, and it often wasn’t possible to get to Europe because Britain was at war with France. In his obituary, it was noted that the artist could cover “20 to 25 miles a day, with his baggage at the end of a stick, sketching rapidly on his way all good pieces of composition, and marking effects with a power that fixed them in his mind with unerring truth at the happiest moment.”

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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St Sampson’s Harbour

The scenes portrayed in the various sketches of St Sampson’s Harbour by Turner show a very different landscape to the one you see today. In most instances buildings obscure the features he has represented, but if you look carefully behind and between the buildings you will find the landmarks. Turner made several sketches and if you take a walk around the area using these landmarks as you reference points, you will be able to find the others.

Share your results in sketches, artworks or photographs using the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
In 1798 Turner was commissioned by the Clarendon Press in Oxford to make full-sized watercolours for the University Almanack, or calendar. He continued to work on watercolour views of England, Wales and Scotland until the late 1830s. They were commissioned for different, often rival, publishers, but all were to be engraved for public sale. Turner would work on a number of watercolours at a time. He would have three or four painting boards with paper on one side and a handle on the other, and he would soak them in water and paint at speed while they were still wet. “This swiftness … enabled Turner to preserve the purity and luminosity of his work, and to paint at a prodigiously rapid rate.” (B. Webber, James Orrock, R.I)

Did you know?
Many artists earned money by painting sets in London theatres. Phillipe de Loutherbourg was an important stage designer of the day. In 1791 Turner painted scenery with his fellow student William Dixon at the Pantheon Opera House in Oxford Street. This connection makes his 1792 watercolour The Pantheon the Morning After the Fire all the more poignant.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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Vale Castle

Of all the sketches featured on the trail, Vale Castle perhaps remains the closest representation of the scene that Turner captured in his sketchbook. He made several other sketches of the castle, as you will see, with a few other images and artworks helping to provide context to the landscapes that Turner would have encountered.

View the additional sketches and take a walk in the area to see if you can locate these, noting you can also visit the St Sampson Harbour panel, located on the middle pier in the harbour behind you.

Share your results in sketches, artworks or photographs using the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
Turner first exhibited an oil painting, Fishermen at Sea, at the Royal Academy in 1796. He had been experimenting with the medium for three or four years before he was able to bring it to a standard he thought good enough to be exhibited. Turner would create artworks for annual exhibitions at the Royal Academy and covered many subjects, from classical themes to landscapes and contemporary history. In his many marine paintings you could feel the danger of the rough seas.

Did you know?
Although by all accounts Turner was not a natural public speaker and mumbled throughout his lectures, his Varnishing Days at the Royal Academy were popular. During the three or four days before the opening of each exhibition members were allowed to make adjustments to their paintings, to take account of the way in which they were hung. On these occasions Turner would load on bright pigments, mostly with a knife, until his paintings blazed with light and colour.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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Rocquaine Bay

You will have noticed you are standing on top of a World War II fortification that clearly wasn’t here during Turner’s time. But looking around there is no other feature in the landscape that can provide the necessary elevation to place Fort Grey under the hills behind as featured in the sketch. Clearly the landscape in this area has changed, with the addition of the coastal road and several new buildings. It is most likely that there would have been a dune where you are standing now, with the sea forming a more natural coastal environment up to the many fishermen’s cottages lined along this section of the coast.

Turner sketched several pages of this area into his sketchbook, as you can see, alongside several other depictions in photographs by contemporary artist James Colmer, responding directly to Turner’s legacy and to older compositions that present a scene closer to the one that Turner would have encountered.

Why not walk the area and see if you can find the location of the other sketches, sharing your findings through sketch or photographs using the hashtag #FindingTurner?

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
Turner was successful in finding wealthy patrons who bought and commissioned work from him and funded his trips abroad. In Turner’s time England was run on patronages, and from the 1790s Turner’s father developed a network of patrons to give his son the opportunities he needed. His most important patron was Walter Fawkes of Farnley Hall in Yorkshire. Just six years older than the artist, he became a good friend and Turner was a frequent guest in his home. Turner also formed lifelong friendships with his son Hawksworth and his brothers and sisters. After Fawkes died in October 1825, the artist could not bring himself to go back to Farnley.

Did you know?
When Turner lived in Twickenham, one of his near neighbours was the exiled Louis-Philippe, claimant to the throne of France. He became the Citizen King of the French after the revolution of July 1830. In June 1838 Louis-Philippe returned to London for the coronation of Queen Victoria, and gave Turner an ornate snuff box with LP picked out in Brazilian diamonds on the lid. Hearing that Turner was travelling in France in 1845, the king invited the artist to his château at Eu on the Normandy coast. This was Turner’s last journey to Europe.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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Petit Bot Bay

This area of Guernsey, the Petit Bot valley, remains in the ownership of the same family who owned and built the granite structures which you see today, some still standing and some now in ruins. 

You will note Turner created a few sketches in the valley, presenting you with an opportunity to explore the paths and viewpoints in the hills above the bay to try and locate them. The family-owned cafe here will be delighted to provide you with some pointers.

You will also see a number of old photographs and artworks depicting the same valley and structures, offering an insight into the scenes Turner would have encountered, and suggestive perhaps of the composition he may have created in response.

Why not walk the area and see if you can find the location of the other sketches, sharing your findings through sketch or photographs using the hashtag #FindingTurner?

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
Turner was known to be thrifty, even mean, with money. The engraver Charles Turner (no relation) fell out with the artist when he tried to increase his fee from eight to ten guineas per plate. And when his patron Walter Fawkes fell upon hard times, Turner loaned him £3,000 but added an annual interest of £150; fortunately he did not try to get the loan back before Fawkes died.

Did you know?
Britain’s new £20 polymer banknote went into circulation in February 2020, with J.M.W. Turner replacing the economist Adam Smith. The picture on the banknote is a self-portrait, painted around 1798. Turner’s painting The Fighting Temeraire also appears on the note; it depicts the Royal Navy ship HMS Temeraire, which helped win the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar, being hauled away by a tug at the end of its life. It is one of the best known and most loved paintings of all time, and Turner himself fell in love with it and never sold it.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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DOYLE MONUMENT

The original monument, built in 1820, had the simple inscription “Doyle – Gratitude”. It stood much higher than the monument which you see today, at around 100ft, and had a staircase up the inside all the way to the top. You can get an idea of the scale from the two men pictured abseiling down the side. It would only have been in place for about a decade when Turner sketched into the view from St Peter Port and from behind the monument looking back towards St Peter Port.

It was demolished by German engineers during the Occupation in World War II. A second smaller monument, the granite column you see today, was built in the same location, a small hill, at a cost of £1,400 and was completed in 1953. 

Share your own responses to Turner’s sketches via the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
Not everyone was a fan of Turner’s work. His fiercest critic was Sir George Beaumont, influential collector and amateur artist. Beaumont was particularly critical when Turner began to use a white ground for his oil paintings. This enabled him to reverse the traditional procedure of working upwards from the darkest tones and to work instead from the lightest. This allowed him to create brilliant light by a harmony of light tones instead of by contrasting light and dark tones, in which respect he was a precursor of the Impressionists. Beaumont savagely attacked “the white painters”, as he called Turner and his followers, such as Calcott.

Did you know?
Turner was critical of himself when it came to his appearance and stature. We often visualise him as he looks in the self-portrait he painted around 1798, when he was 23 or 24 years old. We know that Turner was self-conscious about his prominent nose and jutting chin, but these are not evident in this portrait, which can be found at Tate Britain. Turner was self-conscious about his height – he was 5’4” tall – and said, “..people will say such a little fellow as this can never draw.”

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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Clarence Battery & Soldiers Bay

Clarence Battery was built in 1870 and was once part of a larger fortification that took in the area of Fort George. It is well preserved and consists of numerous armouries and thick walls, which would have given it protection when under attack. It was renamed in honour of George III’s son, Clarence, in 1815, having previously been called Terres Point Battery (George himself gave his name to Fort George). The position was an obvious spot for a defensive structure, so it’s no surprise that it was built when the French Revolution was at its height, and was used by the German occupying forces during World War II as the site of the Luftwaffe’s early warning system.

Its position gives it a commanding view across St Peter Port, Little Russell and Castle Cornet, along with the Castle Breakwater. The open-air bathing pools at La Vallette are immediately below it. Looking south you can see the view of Doyle Monument captured by Turner in c.1832.

With Soldiers Bay below you to the south, presently inaccessible due to the condition of the footpath, and commanding views over the neighbouring islands of the Bailiwick, you can see elements of many of Turner’s sketches from this vantage point.

Local artist James Colmer created his own depiction of the view from Soldiers Bay in response to the legacy of J.M.W. Turner, as you can see here. 

Share your own responses to Turner’s sketches via the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
John Ruskin was a great champion of Turner. The son of a prosperous women importer, at 17 years old he defended Turner against his critics, with prose descriptions of the artist’s works. Ruskin was eager to publish what he had written, but his father insisted that Turner should be sent a copy first for his approval. Turner did send a short reply in acknowledgment. When Ruskin finally met his hero in 1840, he said: “Introduced today to the man who beyond all doubt is the greatest of the age; greatest in every faculty of the imagination, in every branch of scenic knowledge; at once the painter and poet of the day, J.M.W. Turner.” After this, Ruskin visited Turner regularly and his own family home was always open to the artist. Towards the end of Turner’s life, finding his hands would not do as he wished, he burst into tears in Ruskin’s presence.

Did you know?
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Turner Prize, an annual prize presented to a British visual artist. The prize is awarded at Tate Britain every other year, with different venues outside of London being used in alternate years. There have been many controversial winners over the years, such as The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a shark preserved in formaldehyde by Damien Hirst, and My Bed by Tracey Emin.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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Herm Island, Boats at Harbour

For anyone who lives in or visits Guernsey, this view of Herm from the harbour presents an alluring paradise, often caught in the sun tempting you to take the boat to its sandy shores and tranquillity. Turner made a few sketches of Herm from vantage points at sea and from the other islands. 

If you take a walk around the coast, which is a must-do if visiting Herm, heading past Rosaire Steps, where the ferries arrive and depart at low tide, you will find your way to Champagne Rock, which offers a viewpoint over Jethou. Turners’ sketch featured at this location is created from a position at sea, behind Jethou, looking back at the coast of the island.

Turner created a few sketches of Herm and its surrounding small islands, which you can see on this page, along with some photographs and artworks adding further context. A number of these artworks show Herm on the horizon, a familiar sight to the residents of Guernsey, captured here by locally based artist James Colmer who has created a body of work inspired by Turner’s legacy.

Share your own responses to Turner’s sketches, or create your own depictions of Herm’s coast and share via the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
Turner never married, but he did have two daughters, Evelina and Georgiana, with Sarah Danby after her husband died. She already had four children of her own. Turner’s determination to maintain a distinction between his professional and private life is apparent in his treatment of his family. Turner had no intention of marrying, and when speaking of the engraver James Willmore, Turner said: “I hate married men, they never make any sacrifice to the Arts, but are always thinking of their duty to their wives and families, or some rubbish of that sort.” 

Did you know?
Turner’s daughters, Evelina and Georgiana, served as models in his 1815 painting Crossing the Brook, which was sketched in the Tamar valley in Devon. This landscape is thought to be a homage to the French painter Claude (1604/5-1682), whom Turner greatly admired. Two of Turner’s paintings, Dido building Carthage and Sun rising through Vapour, hang between two Claude paintings at the National Gallery, as Turner wished.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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Jethou & Herm

This viewpoint of Herm is created from a position at sea, somewhere behind the small island of Jethou in front of you, looking back at where you are now standing.  

Turner created a few sketches of Herm and its surrounding small islands, which you can see on this page, along with some photographs and artworks adding further context. A number of these artworks show Herm on the horizon, a familiar sight to the residents of Guernsey, captured here by locally based artist James Colmer who has created a body of work inspired by Turner’s legacy.

Share your own responses to Turner’s sketches, or create your own depictions of Herm’s coast and share via the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
Art historians say that Turner’s visit to Guernsey was circa 1832, which means we cannot be sure of the exact date. Some historians believe he came in 1829, to sketch for a work entitled The English Channel, or La Manche, which had been advertised to appear that year. Elhanan Bicknell was a businessman and whaling entrepreneur who lived in a large house in Herne Hill and became a patron of Turner, who was a regular guest at his table. Bicknell’s daughter-in-law Christine wrote in her diary: “Turner was particularly talkative to me about Devonshire and an unfortunate trip he made to the Channel Islands.” We can only speculate as to why Turner considered his trip to be “unfortunate”, but perhaps a series of bereavements and poor health were a factor.

Did you know?
Turner was very close to his “Daddy”, William Turner Sr. His mother had mental health problems and when she was committed to a lunatic asylum, Turner’s father moved in with Sarah Danby and later with Turner himself in Harley Street. At the age of 55, old William Turner became his son’s studio assistant, a job he continued until he was well into his 80s. William died aged 85 on 21 September 1829, and his son erected a monument to his memory. With the death of his father Turner had lost, as the art historian Alexander Joseph Finberg says, “an essential part” of himself. The artist’s lifelong friend Henry Trimmer observed that “Turner never appeared the same man after his father’s death; his family was broken up”.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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Creux Harbour, Sark

There has been a harbour of sorts at Le Creux (Baie de La Motte) since 1570 and this was started by Helier de Carteret, but due to the high cliffs it was very difficult to get to from the land. Helier’s son and heir Philippe cut the original tunnel entrance to the bay 18 years later (1588), and this original tunnel can still be seen today. Philippe de Carteret also made the road up the hill and constructed the windmill. Before that, any export or import to the island of large goods was very difficult indeed. 

The main entrance, along with the protective harbour wall, was not built until 1866, so in c.1832 J.M.W. Turner would have encountered the harbour in its original form as illustrated in the several sketches you see here, courtesy of Tate Images. You can also see a few photographs of the harbour in the late 1800s for context.

Local artist James Colmer, inspired by Turner, has captured Les Burons, the small cluster of rocks just outside the harbour, and the lighthouse at Point Robert, in his contemporary compositions in response to the legacy left by Turner’s visit.

Today the harbour is mainly used by local fishermen and visiting boats using the new structures. The big natural pool is also a much-loved swimming spot at high tide. 

The “Moss” prints from the early to mid-19th century show Guernsey before the advent of photography, capturing the scenes at around the same time as the visit of J.M.W. Turner, offering an insight into the landscapes he would have encountered.

Share your own responses to Turner’s sketches via the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
For the last 15 years or so of his life, Turner’s constant companion was Sophia Caroline Booth, who ran a boarding house in Margate where Turner came as a lodger. Mrs Booth was still in her thirties when they met, and the artist took to calling himself “Mr Booth” or even “Admiral Booth”. In the 1840s Turner moved his companion and her son Daniel John from Margate to his house in Chelsea. He became something of a mentor to the boy, who was training to be an engraver.

Did you know?
Turner Contemporary art gallery opened in Margate in 2011, and is built on the site of the boarding house where the artist stayed with Mrs Booth. The gallery is inspired by the life and work of Turner, who found inspiration in Margate’s skies and light and believed in the power of art as an agent for change.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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La Coupée, Sark

La Coupée is quite a dramatic landscape and it is no wonder that Turner captured it so many times in his sketchbook. You can see here several views of the winding path along the ridge between Big and Little Sark. Note that there were no railings present at that time, which would have made the crossing that much more interesting.

In addition to Turner’s sketches, you can view a few other representations of La Coupée, including those of locally based artist James Colmer, who has created a body of work inspired by Turner’s legacy.

Share your own responses to Turner’s sketches, creating your own photographs or artistic depictions of Sark’s coast and share via the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
In 1832, when Turner is thought to have come to Guernsey, Britain was living under the shadow of cholera. His “Guernsey” sketchbook includes a strong recipe which includes laudanum, labelled “within an hour after the attack”. This is repeated in a similar recipe in another sketchbook of around 1837-38, indicating that whatever Turner was suffering from was chronic and recurrent. By the autumn of 1848 a second cholera epidemic was killing hundreds of people daily throughout the country. Despite Sophia Booth’s efforts to protect him, Turner caught the disease. His doctor, David Price of Margate, was of the opinion that this would have killed him “had he not had the most extraordinary constitution.” 

Did you know?
Although Turner made a full recovery from cholera, he was in great pain which he could only dull through drink. His teeth gave him increasing trouble, and in his final year he had to have them all removed and be fitted with false teeth. He could not bite and with raw gums had to suck meat to sustain himself. He was put on a diet of rum and milk, and would drink up to eight pints a day.

Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

FRAME 16/16

Les Casquets, Alderney

Les Casquets have long been a peril for sailors, featuring a considerable and quite beautiful lighthouse in Turner’s time that has been captured by many artists, as you can see here.

Turner sketched Les Casquets a few times, with a number of detail sketches of the lighthouse, which differs from the more modern structure that you can see in its place today. He also sketched several other views of locations in Alderney ,as you can see here.

In addition to Turner’s sketches you can view a few other representations of Alderney, including those of locally based artist James Colmer, who has created a body of work inspired by Turner’s legacy.

Share your own responses to Turner’s sketches, creating your own photographs or artistic depictions of Alderney’s coast, and share via the hashtag #FindingTurner.

Find the locations of the other 15 frames by scrolling to the top of this page.

J.M.W. Turner
Turner died on 19 December 1851, at the age of 76, at 119 Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral. When his doctor, David Price of Margate, told the artist that death was near, he replied: “Go downstairs, take a glass of sherry, and then look at me again.” When the doctor shook his head Turner said, “I think you had better go and have another glass of sherry.” His cause of death was given as “natural decay”. After Turner’s death, nearly 50 oil paintings of the sea, many with little or no reference to place, were found in his studio, showing the enormous energy he invested in capturing the power of the sea.

Did you know?
In a codicil to his will, Turner directed that all his finished pictures should become property of the National Gallery, and be housed in specially built rooms to be known as “Turner’s Gallery” In 1876, an extension to the National Gallery enabled a reunion of the Turner bequest, with about 40 pictures being selected for loan to museums and galleries around the country. In 1889 Sir Henry Tate offered his collection of modern British art to the National Gallery, provided it was housed in a separate suite of rooms. Without available space, the trustees reluctantly turned down the offer. Tate returned with a new proposal to present not only his collection but a gallery in which to house it. Known initially as the National Gallery of British Art, opened on 16 August 1897 at Millbank, it was popularly renamed the Tate Gallery. Its remit covered works by British artists born after 1790 while those artists born before then, like Turner, remained at Trafalgar Square. This changed in May 1905, when a total of 44 paintings from the bequest were transferred to the Tate. Lionel Cust, the Director of the National Portrait Gallery, called for the establishment of a Turner Gallery at Millbank. An anonymous donor – later revealed as Sir Joseph Duveen – came forward with an offer to construct a new Turner Gallery at the rear of the Millbank site. The bulk of the Turner bequest was lent to the new Turner Gallery which opened on 20 July 1910. The collections were evacuated from London during World War II, and in 1954 the Tate and National Gallery formally separated. In the 1980s the Clore Gallery became the new home of the Turner bequest. In 2000, the Tate Gallery transformed itself with a network of four museums: Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives.

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Finding Turner Art for Guernsey
Finding Turner Art for Guernsey

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