Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shade and Darkness - the Evening of the Deluge

exhibited 1843

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 787 x 781 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
N00531

On loan to: New Art Gallery Walsall (Walsall, UK)

Exhibition: Legacies: JMW Turner and contemporary art practice

Display caption

Pair to 'Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory), The Morning after the Deluge - Moses writing the Book of Genesis'. In these companion pictures, Turner opposes cool and warm colours, and their contrasting emotional associations, as described by Goethe in his 'Farbenlehre' (Theory of Colours). Turner has chosen the biblical Deluge as the vehicle for these ideas, returning to the Historical Sublime he had mastered in some of his earliest exhibition pictures. Originally painted and framed as octagons, this pair carries two of Turner's last and most inspired statements of the natural vortex, while the allusion to Goethe adds a gloss of recent science and theory to a lifetime's preoccupation with elemental forces.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

404. [N00531] Shade and Darkness—the evening of the Deluge Exh. 1843

THE TATE GALLERY, LONDON (531)

Canvas, 31 × 30 3/4 (78·5 × 78)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (47, ‘Eve of the Deluge’ 2'6 1/2" by 2'6v" in diameter); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1905.

Exh. R.A. 1843 (363); Cardiff 1951; Arts Council tour 1952–3 (20); Tate Gallery 1959 (360); New York 1966 (28, repr. in colour p. 40); Dresden (18, repr.) and Berlin (27, colour pl. 17) 1972; R.A. 1974–5 (522); Hamburg 1976 (130 and 156, repr. and colour pl. 18); Hague 1978–9 (xv, repr. in colour); Paris 1983–4 (72, repr.); Birmingham 1984.

Lit. Thornbury 1862, i, p. 347; ii, pp. 332–3; 1877, p. 466, 531; Hamerton 1879, p. 295; Bell 1901, p. 147 no. 239; Armstrong 1902, pp. 156–7, 220; Davies 1946, p. 186; Finberg 1961, pp. 396, 507 no. 553; R.D. Gray, ‘J. M. W. Turner and Goethe's Colour Theory’, German Studies presented to Walter Horace Bruford 1962, pp. 112–16; Kitson 1964, p. 82, repr. in colour p. 72; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, pp. 70–72, pl. 121; Gowing 1966, pp. 38, 51, repr. in colour p. 40; Lindsay 1966, pp. 212–13; 19662, pp. 52, 55–6; Gage 1968, p. 685; Gage 1969, pp. 173, 185–8, 190, 194, colour pl. 51; Reynolds 1969, pp. 150, 192–6, colour pl. 161; Hermann 1975, pp. 50–51, 233, pl. 151; Heffernan 1978, pp. 142–3; Wallace 1979, pp. 109, 113–14, pl. 14; Wilton 1979, pp. 155, 200–2, 216, pl. 231; Wilton 1980, p. 141; Butlin 1981, pp. 43–5; Paulson 1982, p. 68.

Exhibited in 1843 with the following lines:

‘The morn put forth her sign of woe unheeded;
But disobedience slept; the dark'ning Deluge closed around,
And the last token came: the giant framework floated,

The roused birds forsook their nightly shelters screaming
And the beasts waded to the ark’.

Fallacies of Hope M.S.

These verses echo both Thomas Gisborne's Walks in a Forest and Shelley's Prometheus Unbound.

See under the companion Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory)—The Morning after the Deluge—Moses writing the Book of Genesis (No. 405 [N00532]). For what is almost certainly a first version of the composition see No. 443.

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984

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