Joseph Mallord William TurnerSketch or Diagram of a Boat, Indicating Reflected Light and Shadow c.1809

Share this artwork

Artwork details

Artist
Title
Sketch or Diagram of a Boat, Indicating Reflected Light and Shadow
From Perspective Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CVIII
Date c.1809
MediumGraphite on paper
Dimensionssupport: 88 x 115 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D07491
Turner Bequest CVIII 81 a
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 81 Verso:
Sketch or Diagram of a Boat, Indicating Reflected Light and Shadow circa 1809
D07491
Turner Bequest CVIII 81a
Pencil on white wove paper, 88 x 115 mm
Part watermark ‘man | 8’
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Reflec | the shadow | is longer than | the real one’ centre right, and ‘The double shadow is from the luminary shining upon | the Water which has the power of giving reflected light’ along bottom edge
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Maurice Davies has registered the majority of Turner’s extensive inscriptions and diagrams running backwards from folio 91 verso (D07511) to folio 72 verso (D07473) as ‘on light and shadow’, acknowledging John Gage’s previous discussion of them; Gage only considers the pages towards the end of the sketchbook, from folio 91 verso to folio 82 verso (D07493),1 which are concerned with sunlight as parallel or divergent rays.
The present page and those running back to folio 72a are also concerned with sunlight, or light in general in terms of reflections and the casting of light and shadow from polished objects or bodies of water. They relate to Turner’s fifth Royal Academy perspective lecture, on reflection and refraction.The actual text of this section of notes begins on folio 79 verso (D07487).
Passages on folio 78 verso (D07485) about ‘a boat passing | between the suns ray and a wall’ and folio 77 verso (D07483) appear to relate to the present drawing, which may have had its origin in direct observation, perhaps on the Thames west of London along the reaches so familiar to the artist. In discussing Turner’s various sketches of sailing boats, Anthony Bailey describes the configuration of the sails here as a forward, ‘lateen-rigged’ mainsail and a smaller ‘sprit-rig[ged]’ mizzen sail.2 There is a similar semi-diagramatic drawing (this time of a wall and trees), apparently from nature but put to a theoretical use, on folio 7 recto (D07366).

Matthew Imms
June 2008

1
See John Gage, Colour in Turner: Poetry and Truth, London 1969, pp.178, 252 note 217.
2
Bailey 1997, p.94.

About this artwork