Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ships on the River Medway under a Dramatic Sky

c.1821

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 190 x 112 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17368
Turner Bequest CXCIX 2 a

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned vertically, towards the top of this page Turner composes a study of vessels on the river, which Finberg identified specifically as the River Medway.1 A significant portion of the page above the water and boats is occupied with a dramatic sketch of the expansive, cloudy sky. Scribbles, hatches, and rippled lines intersect sporadically with Turner’s inscriptions, which relate to the fickle and blending colours of the prospect. The vessels themselves sit just below the watery horizon.
At the bottom of the page, made with the sketchbook orientated horizontally according to foliation, is a section of a lightly rendered drawing which continues across the gutter onto folio 3 recto (D17369). Finberg’s title for this and the facing sheet also locates this drawing on the River Medway.2 On the present page a slice of gestural topography is indicated, as well as a simple outline of a vessel with three masts, each comprised only of a single pencil line. For an explanation of the remainder of the composition, see the entry for folio 3 recto (D17369).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

1
Finberg 1909, I, p.607.
2
Ibid.

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