Joseph Mallord William Turner

Details of a Ship’s Rigging, with a Group of Vessels on the River Medway


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 190 x 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCIX 43

Catalogue entry

Turner produced two sketches on this page, one with the book turned vertically. The latter shows a group of vessels. These comprise a large warship at left, perhaps a hulk at right, and lighter craft towards the middle. The stretch of water upon which they float is presumably the River Medway given the topographic focus of the present sketchbook. The scene is surrounded by inscriptions, the most legible of which perform as colour prompts, reminders of the sky’s fickle transitions between blue and white. At far left, in the distance, buildings stand at the water’s edge on the riverbank.
With the page inverted according to the sketchbook’s foliation, Turner also makes a study of a small section of a ship’s hull. His perspective seems to look towards the stern which lies beyond an elaborate, perhaps decorative, beam of timber fixed vertically to the side of the vessel. At right, the artist describes the taut ropes of the rigging.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

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