Joseph Mallord William Turner
Red Sky and Crescent Moon c.1818

Artwork details

Red Sky and Crescent Moon
From Skies Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CLVIII
Date c.1818
Medium Watercolour and gouache on paper
Dimensions Support: 125 x 247 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLVIII 54
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Display caption

Turner gave this sketchbook the simple title, 'Skies'. The book contains sixty-five watercolour studies of clouds, sunsets and moonlight, which constitutes his most sustained attempt to set down his impressions of the perpetual flux of the sky. The contents of the book date from 1818, the year before Turner made his first trip to Italy, so we can assume that these are records of the skies above England. The vibrant, but subdued colours used for this study of the early evening sky may reflect the unusual atmospheric conditions which followed the explosion of Mount Tabora in 1815. In the ensuing years, huge amounts of volcanic dust hung in the air, causing great variations in the weather, and producing dramatic sunsets.

August 2004

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