Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Sailing Vessel


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

Chalk on paper
Support: 436 x 271 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXI 115

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, this rapid sketch of a ship under shortened sail, scudding before the wind, is apparently a further study of one of the vessels to the right of the drawing on folios 57 verso–58 recto (D05014–D05015; Turner Bequest LXXXI 112–113); it was used for a ship in a similar position in the finished painting Ships Bearing up for Anchorage (‘The Egremont Seapiece’), exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1802 (Tate T03868, displayed at Petworth House, West Sussex).1
The drawing continues a little on folio 58 verso opposite (D05016; Turner Bequest LXXXI 114). The slight black chalk sketch at the centre left on the present page is apparently unrelated to the main subject and is difficult to interpret, though it appears to represent a human figure and is probably connected with the carved figurehead on the foremost of the ships in the group; compare folios 34 verso–35 recto (D04968–D04969; Turner Bequest LXXXI 66–67).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.17 no.18, pl.14 (colour).

Read full Catalogue entry