The Mouth of the Avon, near Bristol, seen from the Cliffs below Clifton by JMW Turner

This lively watercolour depicting the Avon Gorge was painted by Turner aged only 16, while accompanying family friends on a holiday to Bristol.


Pencil and watercolour heightened with white on paper
22 x 28.5 cm
Art Fund grant:
£23,700 ( Total: £47,400)
Acquired in:
Tennants Auctioneers

During the course of his stay with the Narraway family, who were friends of his father, the young artist became enamoured with the Avon landscape. His frequent visits to the gorge earned him the nickname ‘Prince of the Rocks’. Though young, the aspiring artist was not a complete unknown. One of his watercolours, A View of the Archbishop’s Palace, Lambeth, had already been exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in April 1790, the month he turned 15. This early work shows some of the traits that would come to characterise the mature Turner: his manipulation of topography to heighten the drama of the scene, the Italianate light suffusing the landscape, and the introduction of a ship as a narrative element.


Christies; W G Rawlinson Esq; Christies; Cotswold Gallery; Sotheby's; Private Collection; An Art Loss Register has been supplied.

Venue details

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery Queen's Road, BRISTOL Bristol BS8 1RL 0117 922 3571

Entry details

50% off with National Art Pass

Tues – Sun, 10am – 5pm

Closed from 2pm on 24 Dec. Closed 25 – 26 Dec

Share this article