Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Fishing Boat

c.1799–1802

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Ink and graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 135 x 210 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D04145
Turner Bequest LXIX 128

Catalogue entry

With folios 95 recto and 104 recto (D04110, D04120; Turner Bequest LXIX 96, 105), this drawing, made with the page turned horizontally, is perhaps related to the evolution of the painting Dutch Boats in a Gale: Fishermen Endeavouring to Put their Fish on Board (‘The Bridgewater Seapiece’) of 1801 (private collection, on long loan to the National Gallery, London).1 Alternatively, Fishing Boats Entering Calais Harbour of about 1803 (Frick Collection, New York)2 may make use of these notes.
It has been argued that the subject of the ‘Bridgewater Sea-piece’ is an imminent collision between two boats,3 and in this rapid note, although it shows only one vessel, the opposed sharp diagonals of the spars are vividly suggestive of a moment of crisis in navigation.

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.12–13 no.14, pl.11 (colour).
2
Ibid., p.108 no.142, pl.147 (colour).
3
See A.G.H. Bachrach, ‘Turner, Ruisdael and the Dutch’, Turner Studies, vol.1, no.1, Summer 1981, p.25.

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