Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Boat from Papenburg Aground in the Surf


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 119 x 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXVIII 8

Catalogue entry

See Introduction to the sketchbook for Ruskin’s misdating of this sketch in the National Gallery displays to ‘Turner’s period of development (1775–1800)’. Finberg read Turner’s inscription as beginning ‘Pepper (?) bargh ...’ In Sketches and Drawings, Finberg thought the ‘scenery vaguely suggests the coast of Kent ... possibly Gravesend’.
For the correct reading of Turner’s note, this writer is grateful to Pieter van der Merwe. It shows that this barge-like boat is from Papenburg, the trading and ship-building port on the Ems estuary in what was then Prussia. Her cargo, being unloaded or washed up on the shore, is said to include hemp, a material that Turner would later complain was too often imported and not sufficiently available from home.1 If the drawing dates from 1805, it predates Napoleon’s occupation of much of Prussia and his imposition, by the Berlin Decree of 21 November 1806, of the Continental System to cut off British imports and exports. On 19 November 1806, following assurances from the King of Prussia of the safety of her shipping, Britain had reciprocated with guarantees of free passage to Prussian vessels and specifically for ‘Inhabitants of the Town of Pappenburgh, whose Commerce it is His Majesty’s Intention shall be left free’.2 By 1812, there were protests that rights of passage for shipping from French-occupied countries were benefiting France at the expense of British commerce.3
Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook , 1811 (Tate D08569; Turner Bequest CXXIII 105a); ‘Why should the Volga or the Russians | Be coveted for hemp why such [thus] supply’d | The sinew of our strength our naval pride | Have we not soil sufficient...’
Privy Council, 19 November 1806; The London Gazette, No.15976, 18– 22 November 1806, p.1505.
‘Mr. Brougham’s Motion Relating to the Orders in Council and the Licence Trade’, Hansard, vol.21, cc1092–163, 3 March 1812.
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘149’ bottom left
Inscribed in pencil by Arthur Mayger Hind ‘LXXXVIII’ top left

David Blayney Brown
February 2006

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