Distant View of Minster, Isle of Thanet, Kent, c.1788

Pen, ink and watercolour, 10 7/8 x 14 7/8 ins, 276 x 378 mm

Private Collection

Turner catalogues: Wilton no.4; tdb 150;

This is one of a series of four watercolours, two of Margate and two of Minster, all sharing the same provenance, evidently having been gifted by Turner’s mother to a Jane Hunt of London who married James Taylor of Bakewell, Derbyshire, and descending in her family to the present day. The group probably constitutes the earliest work of Turner outside the Turner Bequest.

Shanes 2016 p.8 ff discusses the significance of Turner’s residence at Margate c.1788. There are two watercolour of Margate but no-one seems to have considered the context for this excursion to Minster. The church lies about six miles south-west of Margate, so is relatively nearby, but there seems to be some occasion implied. Perhaps Turner’s connections in Margate had some association with the village.

Wilton 1979 appears to be the first to have identified the subject, having first identified the subject of its companion showing a near view of the church from the same angle.

Turner records the north-east view of St Mary’s Church, Minster in Thanet, as seen from near the entrance to Abbey Farm, as descending to Minster on what would be a plausibly direct walking route from Margate.

Patrick Youngblood suggested in 1984 that the series was painted direct from nature, and the absence of any separate pencil sketches from this time, together with the particularity of detail, seems to suggest that very strongly.

This watercolour represents one of Turner’s first serious attempt at the depiction of trees. It would be interesting to make a comparative study of his development.


Mary Turner (the artists mother), by whom given to Jane Taylor (nee Hunt), of Bakewell, Derbyshire; by descent to present owner
Private Collection U.K. (1979, 1987, 2016)

Publications and exhibitions:

Wilton 1979 no. 4 as ‘View of Minster, Isle of Thanet ?1784’, repr. b/w;
P. Youngblood, ‘The Stones of Oxford’ in Turner Studies: 1984, 3(2), pp.5 and 20 n.33;
Gage 1987, p.40 repr b/w as ‘View of Minster, Isle of Thanet c.1784’
Turner Worldwide 2004, where dated c.1784, repr colour;
Shanes 2016, p.12 repr colour as ‘Distant View of Minster, Isle of Thanet, Kent, 1788’

DH 21 August 2020

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