Joseph Mallord William Turner Moonlight over the Sea, with Distant Cliffs 1796–7

Artwork details

Date 1796–7
Medium Gouache and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 134 x 209 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXIII N
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

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This drawing belongs to a small group of studies on buff paper which probably relate to 'Fishermen at Sea'. Technically, Turner's early moonlights and interiors on paper demonstrate that he was one of a few artists who had begun to experiment in making watercolours emulate the effects of oil painting, then thought to be the only true medium for the serious painter. In a conscious move away from the conventions of eighteenth century tinted drawing practice, Turner and others began to make works on paper which, through the use of coloured papers, bodycolour, scratching out and other techniques, often echoed the oil painter's method of working from dark colours to light ones.

September 2004

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