Joseph Mallord William Turner

Composition Study for ‘Dutch Boats in a Gale: Fishermen Endeavouring to Put their Fish on Board (“The Bridgewater Seapiece”)’

c.1799–1801

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 436 x 271 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D05008
Turner Bequest LXXXI 106

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the subject is continued on folio 55 recto opposite (D05009; Turner Bequest LXXXI 107). It is apparently the last of a series, working backwards through the book as now foliated, of studies for the large painting Dutch Boats in a Gale: Fishermen Endeavouring to Put their Fish on Board (‘The Bridgewater Seapiece’), exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1801 (private collection, on loan to the National Gallery, London),1 having been commissioned by the Duke of Bridgewater as a pendant to A Rising Gale (Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio) by Willem van de Velde the Younger (1633–1707).
Others studies in the sequence are on folios 55 verso–56 recto, 57 verso–58 recto, 60 verso–61 recto, 62 verso–63 recto, 64 verso–65 recto and 66 recto (D05010–D05011, D05014–D05015, D05020–D05021, D05024–D05025, D05028–D05029, D05031; Turner Bequest LXXXI 108–109, 112–113, 118–119, 122–123, 126–127, 129); see also folios 53 verso–54 recto (D05006–D05007; Turner Bequest LXXXI 104–105).
If Turner’s inscription is correct, it is interesting that his final thought on paper should have been of boats close to the picture plane, their wind–filled sails dominating the design as a repoussoir. He altered this in the picture itself, placing the boats more centrally, while the distant man–o’–war is farther off and reduced in relative importance; compare D05010–D05011.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

1
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.12–13 no.14, pl.11 (colour).

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