Lot 374
  • 374

Joseph Mallord William Turner R.A. 1775-1851

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  • Joseph Mallord William Turner R.A.
  • Hastings: Fish market on the sands, early morning
  • signed l.l.: J M W Turner RA 1824
  • watercolour over pencil heightened with bodycolour and scratching out on wove paper, watermarked: J Whatman Turkey Mill 1822
  • 44.5 by 66 cm., 17 1/2 by 26 in.


Probably commissioned by W.B. Cooke for 'Marine Views';
Presented by the artist to his doctor, Sir Anthony Carlisle, 1824;
Joseph Gillott Sale, Christie's, 4th May 1872, lot 511, bt. J & W Vokins for £155;
Anonymous sale, Christie's, 17th May 1873, lot 41, bt. Agnew's for 845 gns.;
Cornelius Vanderbilt, New York, 1915;
By descent to Mrs Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jnr., her sale in these Rooms, 29th May 1963, lot 60;
Hammer Galleries, New York;
Anonymous Sale, Sotheby's, New York, 27th February 1982, lot 179;
Anonymous Sale in these Rooms, 10th April 1997, lot 178.


W.B. Cooke's Gallery, Soho Square, 1824, no. 21;
Dallas, Texas, Museum of Fine Arts, The Arts of Man, 1962;
Utsonomiya, Japan, Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts and Shizuoaka, Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, Sun Wind and Rain: The Awakening of British Landscape Painting, 1992, no. 70, repr.;
Hastings, Turner in 1066 Country, 1998,  no. 48


W. Thornbury, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., 1877 ed., pp. 617-9;
Sir Walter Armstrong, Turner, 1902, p. 257;
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner, his Life and Art, 1979, p. 358, no. 510, as untraced.
Eric Shanes, Turner's Rivers, Harbours and Coasts, 1981, pp.10-11, 47-8, no. 155, repr.;
John Gage, J.M.W. Turner; A Wonderful Range of Mind, 1987, pp. 60, 217-8, repr. pl. 296;
Eric Shanes, Turner's England, 1990, pp. 124-5, repr.

Catalogue Note

The present work shows a view looking west towards the town of Hastings with fishermen selling their wares on the beach in the foreground. It was drawn by Turner as part of a series of large watercolours commissioned by W.B. Cooke, who intended to engrave them under the title of 'Marine Views.' The watercolours were never engraved, but 30 were exhibited at Cooke's Gallery at 9 Soho Square, London between 1822 and 1824. This watercolour was begun in early 1824 and was shown in Cooke's Exhibition of that year, which opened on the 8th April.

Eric Shanes points out that the central figure group in the watercolour is framed by figures in Greek costume. A woman on the left is wearing the costume of a Greek soldier, while the man kneeling to the right is wearing Attic costume. Shanes claims that their clothing was almost certainly based on illustrations in Hugh 'Grecian' William's Travels in Italy, Greece and the Ionian Islands, published in 1820, which is recorded in Turner's library (see Andrew Wilton, Turner in his Time, 1987, pp. 246-7). Turner is alluding to the Greek War of Independence, which was a topical issue at the time. In early 1824, there was widespread fund-raising in Britain on behalf of the Greeks. The poet Lord Byron was killed at Missalonghi on 19th April, not long after the opening of Cooke's exhibition.

Shanes notes that the cause of Greek independence seems to have been of particular interest to Turner. In 1816, he painted two oil paintings of a Greek  Temple, one showing it intact in ancient times under Greek control, the other as a contemporary ruin under Turkish control. Additionally he drew seven illustrations for an edition of Byron's between 1823 and 1824 and an 1822 watercolour of the Acropolis (Wilton, op.cit., 1987, no. 1055) all of which allude to the Greek wars.

The reference to Greece in the present watercolour is not therefore unique in Turner's oeuvre. As Shanes points out, it is clearly fitting that Turner chooses a view of Hastings to make a statement about liberty and the loss of independence, as 'it was near Hasting in 1066 that English independence was lost for only the second and last time in our history' (see Shanes, op.cit., 1990, p. 125).