Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sailing Boats and a Rowing Boat

c.1799–1805

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

Medium
Chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 436 x 271 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D04992
Turner Bequest LXXXI 90

Catalogue entry

The subject is continued on folio 47 recto opposite (D04993; Turner Bequest LXXXI 91). It is apparently connected with the sea piece that Turner stated was ‘unpainted’ in 1805 when he made the note on folio 44 verso (D04988; Turner Bequest LXXXI 86); the statement occurs again in the drawing on folios 47 verso–48 recto (D04994–D04995; Turner Bequest LXXXI 92–93).
The inscription ‘Do’ (for ‘ditto’) on the present page cannot refer to the immediately preceding drawing on folios 45 verso–46 recto (D04990–D04991; Turner Bequest LXXXI 88–89) a study for the ‘Egremont Seapiece’; it should probably be read as concluding a sequence beginning on folio 51 verso (D05002; Turner Bequest LXXXI 100) with the note ‘Lee shore’. As Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll observe, Turner seems to have been working backwards through the book at this point.1
The sketches tell us that he was contemplating a second ‘lee shore’ subject after he had completed and exhibited the 1802 picture Fishermen upon a Lee–Shore, in Squally Weather (Southampton Art Gallery);2 see folios 43 verso–44 recto (D04986–D04987; Turner Bequest LXXXI 84–85). This drawing introduces a new motif, a rowing boat in the immediate foreground, tilting diagonally as it breasts choppy waves in its movement from left to right. The boat recurs on folios 47 verso–48 recto (D04994–D04995; Turner Bequest LXXXI 92–93), and again on folios 48 verso–49 recto and 50 verso–51 recto (D04996–D04997, D05000–D05001; Turner Bequest LXXXI 94–95, 98–99).
A similar feature appears in a finished oil painting Sheerness and the Isle of Sheppey, with the Junction of the Thames and the Medway from the Nore, exhibited at Turner’s gallery in 1807 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC).3 The small boat is seen there against light–coloured sails similar to those indicated by Turner with white chalk in this study and that on the following spread, folios 47 verso–48 recto (D04994–D04995; Turner Bequest LXXXI 92–93).
1
See Butlin and Joll 1984, p.49.
2
Ibid., pp.15–16 no.16, pl.12 (colour).
3
Ibid., pp.49–50 no.62, pl.73.
Technical notes:
There is some offsetting from folio 47 recto opposite (D04993; Turner Bequest LXXXI 91).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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