Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping in a Calm, ?off Cowes


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk, pen and ink and graphite on paper
Support: 142 x 193 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLX 61

Catalogue entry

This is among dozens of blue paper studies presumably made in connection with the Cowes Regatta events in the late summer of 1827; see the Introduction to this subsection for other generic harbour and coastal scenes. There are no landmarks, but the setting may be the mouth of the River Medina and the Solent off Cowes; compare Tate D24867 (Turner Bequest CCLX 31).
Like several others in the present subsection, this drawing was categorised in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory in one of the sections of works on blue paper ‘mostly connected with “French Rivers”’.1 John Ruskin described this and Tate D24898 (Turner Bequest CCLX 62), a contrasting breezy seascape with which it was paired, as ‘Perfectly noble and masterly examples of [Turner’s] pen studies.’2
See Finberg 1909, II, pp.806–13, CCLX, ‘Pencil and ink on blue paper: mostly connected with “French Rivers” series’, c.1830; see also Warrell 1999, pp.30, 253 note 84, linking this sheet to the Isle of Wight.
‘Catalogue of the Sketches and Drawings by J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Exhibited in Marlborough House in the Year 1857–8’ (1857) in Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.313.
Technical notes:
The blue paper has faded severely owing to prolonged exposure when formerly on display, and is now a consistent buff colour except where the edges were protected by the mount.
Blank; inscribed ?by John Ruskin in red ink ‘[?Fr] 544’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘52a’ centre right and ‘CCLX – 61’ bottom centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram above ‘CCLX – 61’ below right of centre.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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