Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Coastal View ?in Northern France


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 237 x 338 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVII 1

Catalogue entry

This watercolour view of a beach and headland has been achieved without underlying pencil drawing. The dominant technique here is ‘wet-on-wet’ brush-strokes worked onto a highly water-saturated page; notable is the ‘hatched’ area in the lower register. Just above this section, the appearance of spume on the breaking waves has been captured by ‘lifting out’ small areas of blue wash.
As detailed in the Introduction to this sketchbook, this leaf is a possible candidate for one of the ‘drawn on’ inside covers noted by Finberg when the volume had yet to be broken up.1 Certainly, the sketch is comparable with the extremely liquid sea views which Turner sometimes worked into the inside covers of his contemporary ‘roll sketchbooks’. Intact examples of this include inside covers from the Ideas of Folkestone and Boulogne sketchbooks (Tate D35361, D35435; Turner Bequest CCCLVI 1, CCCLVIII 24).
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.1167.
Technical notes:
A margin of discolouration runs down the extreme left of the page with some dark blue mottling in the lower half. The upside down Turner Bequest number stamped in black at the top left of the page indicates that the sketch was inverted in relation to the intact volume as foliated. Robert Upstone suggests that the ‘X’ in the bottom right corner was inscribed to distinguish the top from the bottom of the sketch for correct viewing, although roman numerals of uncertain signification are scattered throughout the sketchbooks and may indicate redundant endorsement or accessioning notation; for example ‘C’ on the inside front cover of the Boulogne sketchbook (Tate D35402; Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 1).1
The watermark is that of the Ruse and Turner paper mill which also features on D35387 (Turner Bequest CCCLVII 2).2
Upstone 1993, p.65.
For this paper mill, see Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999, p.87.
Blank, except for margin of mottled brown discolouration running down the extreme right of the page.

John Chu
December 2013

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