Joseph Mallord William Turner

Seascape, with Fortification on Cliffs in Distance

c.1822–3

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 257 x 178 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17721
Turner Bequest CCII 2

Catalogue entry

Turner’s gestural handling here recreates to full effect the motion of the choppy sea and inclement sky above. Turner employs a combination of vigorous strokes of dry brush to render the swell of the waves and daubs of pigment allowed to bleed and feather on saturated paper for the sky heavy with rain.
A number of sails can be seen in the distance in yellow and in the foreground in mauve wash, implying that this may be a harbour scene. Tentative line drawings of masts and sails in pencil are at the horizon on the left. The profile of a headland occupies the majority of the central register. A striking ‘V’ shape exposes some of the sky before the headland continues to the periphery of the sheet. A fortification of some kind, perhaps a Martello tower, is atop this section of cliff.
Verso:
Inscribed in pencil ‘CCII–2’.

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2013

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