A street in Margate, looking down to the harbour, c.1788

Pen ink and watercolour on paper, 10 5/8 x 16 ins, 270 x 407 mm

Private Collection

Turner catalogues; Wilton 2; tdb 148

This is one of a series of four watercolours 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.

Wilton 1979 identifies the view: ‘There can be little doubt that this drawing shows Margate, looking down towards the harbour, and the cliffs of Birchington, with the twin towers of Reculver on the distant headland. It was presumably executed at the same date as no.1’.

Wilton’s identification is suggestive of finding the exact location. Taking a bearing on distant Reculver in relation to the harbour, the rough location would be somewhere in the vicinity of Northumberland Row, perhaps near the junction with East Crescent.. Nothing in that area today, however, quite answers to the details of the watercolour except that the large house with twin chimneys in the left middle distance might well be identifiable as 23 King Street, the splendid residence of Francis ‘King’ Cobb (1726-1802), banker and brewer and styled the ‘King of Margate’. If it proves possible to confirm the viewpoint, that might offer some insight into Turner’s interest in this particular subject.

Google Streetview; King Street Margate with the twin cables of Cobb’s House.

Youngblood 1984 suggests that the whole series was painted from nature and Wilton 1987 judges that its ‘elaborate perspective down a street towards the sea, is sophisticated in a surprising degree’.


Mary Turner (the artist’s 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 exhbitions:

Wilton 1979 no.1 as ‘A street in Margate, looking down to the harbour, ?1784’, repr. p.24 b/w;
P. Youngblood, ‘The Stones of Oxford’ in Turner Studies: 1984, 3(2), pp.5 and 20 n.33;
Wilton 1987, p’18, as ‘A street in Margate, looking down to the harbour, c.1786’, repr b/w;
Exh: Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury, Turner and the Coast of Kent. 7-28 October, 1989;
Turner Studies: 1990, 10 (1) 62;
Turner Worldwide 2004, where dated c.1784, repr colour;
Shanes 2016, p.11 repr colour as ‘A street in Margate, looking down to the harbour, 1788’

DH 18 August 2020

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