Joseph Mallord William Turner

Clouds ?over the Sea at Sunset

c.1823–6

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Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 202 x 350 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D36213
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 352

Catalogue entry

In potentially connecting this work to the ‘Little Liber’ series,1 Eric Shanes has suggested a relationship between its composition and watercolours as various in mood as the bright and airy study Finberg called ‘A sketch of sea: Morning’2 (Tate D35985; Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 142) and a canonical ‘Little Liber’ composition, the stormy and near-monochrome Paestum (Tate D36070; Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 224).3 They all share a low horizon and relative emptiness.
Despite the somewhat uneven horizon, the prospect here seems to be the sea from a beach, and the pale yellow light catching the underside of the clouds before gradually merging into pink and grey above suggests the rapidly fading afterglow of sunset. Compare the colours and mood of the ‘Little Liber’ Gloucester Cathedral (Tate D25430; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 307) and the so-called Twilight over the Waters (Tate D25338; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 216) in the present subsection.
1
See also Warrell 2002, p.64, and Warrell 2003, pp.70, 147.
2
Finberg 1909, II, p.1185.
3
Shanes 1997, p.98.
Verso:
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘11’ at centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCCLXIV 352’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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