Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Rainbow above a Landscape

c.1828–40

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 306 x 488 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25296
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 174

Catalogue entry

This elemental evocation of a rainbow over a bright landscape has been noted in passing by Eric Shanes as possibly related to a colour study (Tate D25272; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 150)1 for the Ports of England watercolour design Plymouth (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon);2 as the rainbow in that subject rises to the right, and it is usually dated to about 1825 in relation to its being engraved in 1828 (Tate impression: T04835), the 1828 watermark of the present sheet seems to preclude a direct connection. Nevertheless, just as in D25272, the bright colours of the rainbow itself are evoked by a contrast of a simple undeveloped arc of warm ochre against the cool blues of the sky. Compare also the full rainbow in Tate D17182 (Turner Bequest CXCVI R), watermarked 1816.
1
See Shanes 1997, p.51.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.388 no.760, reproduced.
Technical notes:
The sheet is darkened and stained at the bottom right corner.
Verso:
Blank; inscribed by John Ruskin in pencil ‘AB 150 P | O’ top left, upside down; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII | 174’ bottom right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLXIII – 174’ bottom right.
There is some heavy brown staining.

Matthew Imms
March 2016

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