Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dover, from the Sea

c.1822–3

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Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 257 x 178 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17733
Turner Bequest CCII 14

Catalogue entry

This is a colour sketch for the finished Dover watercolour drawing in the Ports of England series (Tate D18154; Turner Bequest CCVIII U).1 As Andrew Wilton notes the finished view ‘embraces a wider panorama’ and the ‘height of the cliff is much exaggerated’.2 While both views are taken from the sea the colour sketch is more frontally orientated towards the harbour, limiting the opportunity to add extra foreground incident. In contrast to the isolate sailboat in the foreground of this colour sketch, the finished watercolour is replete with diverting local features: a gig with its crew hauling on the oars against the choppy sea, a wrecked brig, a hoy laden with cargo and a cross-Channel packet.
The view is rendered with summary applications of wash: broad plains of dilute colour layered with strokes and flecks of more saturated pigment to define the harbour settlement, the castle atop the headland, and the turbulence of the waves. Shades of slate grey and yellowed green heightened with blue comprise the Channel waters; warm yellow tones, seen in the finished watercolour, mark out the headland and beach; and pale blue wash applied vigorously with a drier brush has been used for the sky. The drawing is similar in composition and colour range to the loose preparatory watercolour Dover Castle from the Sea (Tate D22502; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 378).
There are two other views of Dover in this sketchbook on folios 16 and 18 (Tate D17735, D17737; Turner Bequest CCII 16, 18).
For pencil sketches of Dover see Turner’s Hastings sketchbook of about 1816–8 (Tate D10363–D10364; Turner Bequest CXXXIX 18a–19); the Richmond Hill; Hastings to Margate sketchbook of the same date (Tate D10456, D10468, D10473–D10474; Turner Bequest CXL 25, 31, 33a–34). See also the later Folkestone sketchbook of about 1821 (Tate D17211, D17283, D17323, D17329; Turner Bequest CXCVIII 3, 46, 68a, 71a); the Holland sketchbook of 1825 (Tate D18842–D18844, D19345–D19346, D19349–D19369; D19372–D19375D19377, D19379–D18381; Turner Bequest CCXIV 1a–2a, 254a–255, 256a–266a, 268–270a, 271a–272 a); and the Holland, Meuse and Cologne sketchbook of about 1825 (Tate D19401–D19404, D19406–D19409, D19312–D19313; Turner Bequest CCXV 1–2a, 3a–5, 6a–7).
1
Wilton 1975, p.64, no.92.
2
Ibid.

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2013

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