Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Composition Study; Studies of Boats

c.1799–1805

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 436 x 271 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D05046
Turner Bequest LXXXI 144

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the main subject is continued on folio 74 recto opposite (D05047; Turner Bequest LXXXI 145), where there is a second, less legible scene. The first may relate to the painting of the Holy Family, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803 (Tate N00473;1 see folios 31 verso and 33 recto; D04962, D04965; Turner Bequest LXXXI 60, 63), but compare also the drawing on folios 56 verso–57 recto (D05012–D05013; Turner Bequest LXXXI 110–111), an equally tenebrous affair, with figures in the foreground.
The boats were drawn independently, with the page turned horizontally; compare folios 74 verso and 75 verso (D05048, D05050; Turner Bequest LXXXI 146, 148).
At the outer edge, Turner has inscribed the following in black chalk:
23
100
19 8
900
100
1900
9 100
360
Some of the figures, as well as the overall sense, are somewhat unclear, but they may possibly refer to Turner’s takings from the sale of pictures.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.38–9 no.49, pl.60.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like