View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
With the page turned horizontally, this is one of a series of drawings in this book in which Turner recreates a dangerous moment during his crossing from England to France in 1802; see folios 30 verso–31 recto and 37 recto (D04960–D04961, D04973; Turner Bequest LXXXI 58–59, 71). Finberg, who assumed that Turner took this book with him to France, says:
Turner probably enjoyed the experience as the boat rode in on the waves and was flung aground amid the flying spray. Before the other passengers could land he was on the pier, watching the waves beating against the wooden jetty and the French fishermen putting out to sea. We gather all this from the pages of his sketch–book...1
However, it is much more likely that all these drawings were made later, in England, from memory, in this book which would have been unwieldy in such stressful conditions. There are drawings in other, more pocketable books, such as the Small Calais Pier sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest LXXI), that he may well have made at the time. There are many resemblances between this drawing and the design of a painting Turner had shown at the Royal Academy just before his departure for France, Fishermen upon a Lee–Shore, in Squally Weather (Southampton Art Gallery).2 That too shows a single boat among breakers, with shipping and a jetty in the background.
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