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The Beacon Light

TURNER, Joseph Mallord William (1775 - 1851)

[image: The Beacon Light]

Media: oil on canvas

Size: 61.5 x 96.0 cm

Acquired: 1952; Bequest; Gwendoline Davies

Accession Number: NMW A 433

Collection: The Davies Sisters Collection

This painting was rejected as genuine in 1956 and in the 1977 complete catalogue of Turner’s paintings is described as ‘a partly reworked fragment; with a ‘curiously unauthentic appearance’ that ‘has certainly been worked on by a hand other than Turner’s.  After recent investigations into the materials and technique it is now accepted as genuine and solely the hand of Turner. 

Turner captures the effect of light on a raging sea and the spray from the waves crashing against the cliff.   His intention here was to explore the nature of the sea under a changing sky, rather than to depict a specific place.  However, the discovery of a painted out lighthouse on the cliff edge has prompted new research into a possible location.  Traditionally said to show The Needles, Isle of Wight, it is now thought to depict the coastline from St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe, north of Dover looking towards the South Foreland Lighthouse, where there was both a beacon and a lighthouse.  There is evidence that Turner may have had a house at St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe around the date of this painting. 

Gwendoline Davies purchased Beacon Light for £2,625 at auction through Hugh Blaker in June 1922. 


jlb, 7 April 2014, 22:19


i recognised this cliff immediately it is the beach that i spent my childhood on, not off the cost of Margate, not even in Thanet, but it's the cliff that dominates the beach at St Margarets Bay in between Dover and Deal on the south east kent coast.

wonderful painting and even more wonderful place,


Jo Blackham, 2 October 2012, 15:56

I do so hope that this will be available from your 'print on demand' service. Since I saw it on the BBC I've been haunted by it - in a good way - and would love to have a copy.

John Rowlands, 24 September 2012, 16:36 (Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff)

Here's a link to the exhibition page:

J.M.W. Turner: The Davies Collection

John Rowlands, 24 September 2012, 11:46 (Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales Staff)

Thank you all for the comments, and you will be pleased to hear that as of tomorrow (25 Sept) Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’ seven oil paintings will be on display together in 'J.M.W. Turner: The Davies Collection'.

More information to follow.

Margaret, 24 September 2012, 11:45

Very much looking forward to seeing the re-appraised Turners take their place in the gallery soon.
They are wonderful.

Chris , 24 September 2012, 11:13

I found the history of this painting fascinating and would very much like to plan a visit to Wales to see this and the other Turners in the collection. I really do hope that you now have plans to put these on permanent display

Ceri Davies, 23 September 2012, 20:22

Will Beacon Light along with Off Margate and Margate Jetty be on display soon following the BBC programme tonight concerning previous doubts about their provenance now apparently dispelled?

AM Lewis, 23 September 2012, 20:22

Please put this on display! After seeing it on the BBC TV documentary today, I am fascinated by this piece of work and the controversy surrounding it and proof that it s not a fake. . The documentary also pointed out that this painting is actually of cliffs in Margate and not of the Isle of Wight.
It's beautiful and I really look forward to seeing it on public display.

David Lee, 23 September 2012, 20:15

Having just watched a BBC Arts programme on the legacy of the Davies sisters...I note that the Turners, that were of disputed provenance, have now been established as genuine Turners'. Why then do the current catalogue entries not acknowledge this .? Further why are they not on public display ?

I would appreciate your comments also, could you let me know how I could arrange to view these pictures ?

I look forward to hearing fom you shortly

Kind regards

David Lee

VaL, 23 September 2012, 20:11

Having just watched the BBC's 'Fake or Fortune' do you have any plans to exhibit Beacon Light in the near future?

Rhian Arthur Jones, 23 September 2012, 20:02

Having watched the documentary on ITV this evening regarding the provenance of this painting and the conclusion that it is a genuine painting by Turner of a location in Margate, please confirm that 'Beacon Light' will be/is on display at the National Museum Wales.

ted rogers, 23 September 2012, 19:53

bbc fake or fortune 23rd sept 2012 this painting has now been proven to have been painted by turner,
when will it be put on display

Andy, 23 September 2012, 19:51

After the BBC must be time to display!

Andy, 23 September 2012, 19:49

After the BBC must be time to display!

Amgueddfa Cymru, 16 July 2012, 09:34

Dear Lyn, thank you for your comment -
The art galleries have a changing programme of displays which means that works are sometimes not on display. When the work is on display again Art Online will be updated with the gallery information.

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