Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sea and Sky

c.1830–45

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

Medium
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 193 x 280 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D36163
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 306

Display caption

The modern concept of abstraction would not have been understood or endorsed in the nineteenth century, even by an artist as experimental as Turner. He would not have intended these late, loose colour beginnings to have been exhibited during his lifetime.

Nevertheless, in each of these works the elements of the composition are reduced to the barest representation of sea and sky. These private, informal studies reveal Turner’s intuitive ability to think of landscape in terms of pure colour.

Gallery label, July 2008

Catalogue entry

This is one of a large number of sketches on loose sheets of paper depicting coastal terrain and seagoing vessels in various combinations. For the grouping and dating of these works to the middle and later periods of Turner’s career, see the section introduction.
Technical Notes:
A margin of darker blue paper around the edge of the sheet indicates prolonged exposure to light.
Verso:
Pencil notes reading ‘574A’ and ‘CCCLXIV – 306’. Stamped in black with the Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCCLXIV – 306’.
John Chu

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