Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Sailing Boat or Boats at Sea with Blustery Clouds

c.1823–6

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: 240 x 304 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D36317
Turner Bequest CCCLXV 27a

Display caption

Many of the sheets of paper in the Turner Bequest were trimmed or cut down after they became national property in order that they could be mounted and shown to the public. This policy sometimes meant that groups of studies which Turner had made on one sheet, as part of the same creative process, were separated. Happily, this piece of paper still gives some idea of how Turner worked on several complementary subjects at the same time. He has here contrasted a marine with a heathland scene, both of which are characterised by blustery skies.

Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

There seems to be a hint of a second, darker sail just behind and to the right of the prominent white one which has been differentiated by dampening and lifting out the background colour, suggesting two boats in close formation in changeable light.
Although placed without further comment after about 1830 by Finberg,1 this work is dated here in line with the period of the ‘Little Liber’ series, by comparison with the maritime subject, light tones and dynamic, loose handling of one of the canonical watercolour designs, Ship in a Storm (Tate D25432; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 309a). See also Tate D25339 and D35926 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 217, CCCLXIV 83) in the present subsection.
See also the breezy landscape subject Tate D36318 (Turner Bequest CCCLXV 27b) in a similar mode, still attached below the present work as discussed in the technical notes here.
1
Finberg 1909, II, p.1213.
Technical notes:
Although stamped, measured and imaged as a separate work, this is the upper half of a once-folded vertical sheet shared with Tate D36318 (Turner Bequest CCCLXV 27b), another horizontal landscape. Their overall size is approximately 483 x 304 mm. The fold is evident as a darkened horizontal line between them. The division is fairly neat except where the wash at the top right of the other composition extends slightly onto the bottom right of this half, suggesting that the sheet was worked on unfolded at least for part of the time.
As Ian Warrell has noted:
Many of the sheets of paper in the Turner Bequest were trimmed or cut down after they became national property in order that they could be mounted and shown to the public. This policy sometimes meant that groups of studies which Turner had made on one sheet, as part of the same creative process, were separated. Happily, this piece of paper still gives some idea of how Turner worked on several complementary subjects at the same time.1
1
Warrell 2007, p.110.
Verso:
Blank

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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