Joseph Mallord William Turner

Hulks 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: 112 x 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCIX 79 a

Catalogue entry

As articulated by Finberg, Turner here applies significant and detailed attention to a group of vessels, producing drawings across this and the facing page on folio 80 recto (D17489).1 The Medway identification is provoked by the topographic focus of this sketchbook.
At the centre of the sheet, Turner describes in detail the stern of a hulk. Rich with elaborative pencil work, the maritime architecture is revealed from the top of the rudder to the windows of the galleries. The hull of the ship extends diagonally away towards the left, marked with two gun ports but left largely unelaborated until the curve of the bow.
At right, the bow of a hulk is described to larger proportions. This drawing straddles the gutter, composed across both the present page and facing sheet. The portion visible here stretches from the tip of the bowsprit to the middle of the hull, which is split immediately before the mainmast. Four rows of gun ports pierce the timber hull and an elaborate figurehead in indicated beneath the heel of the bowsprit. The foremast extends from the deck, running upwards parallel with the gutter.
Finberg 1909, I, p.609.
Technical notes:
A small tear which encroaches onto this sheet from the left edge has been fixed. The paper is marked with the fibrous residue of the adhesive used.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Read full Catalogue entry


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