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'The Shell Lady' (Mrs. Sophie Booth), Margate, England | by rayyaro
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'The Shell Lady' (Mrs. Sophie Booth), Margate, England

Sophie Booth, a widow, was artist J.M.W. Turner's landlady in Margate. Her boarding house was on Margate's seafront, on the site of what is now The Turner Contemporary Art Gallery.

It was rumoured that Mrs. Booth was also Turner's mistress:

a recent exhibition there of his paintings and sketches showed the occasional 'Nude Study' of an amply endowed lady, probably, it was said, of Sophie herself. So there we are!

The £50,000 commission for this bronze was won by local sculptor, Ann Carrington, who took for her inspiration the popular 'Shell Ladies' souvenirs sold in Margate.

Some say that these were inspired by Margate's mysterious 'Shell Grotto'.

Her sculpture can be found at the end of the harbour arm.


The recent release (October 31 2014) of the movie 'Mr Turner' portraying the artist's later life has proved a popular one. Turner is played by British actor, Timothy Spall, and Mrs Sophie Booth by Marion Bailey.

Ms. Bailey looks nothing like this sculpture, I hasten to add!


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Taken on September 4, 2011