Joseph Mallord William Turner

Red Sky and Crescent Moon

c.1818

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour and gouache on paper
Dimensions
Support: 125 x 247 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D12502
Turner Bequest CLVIII 54

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.

Gallery label, August 2004

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