Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Boats and Figures

1819

Not on display
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 113 x 189 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D15908
Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 1

Catalogue entry

This page contains sketches of various types of boats and shipping, as well as some rough figure studies, presumably seen during Turner’s exploration of Naples and the surrounding area in October 1819. The largest of these studies depicts a small fishing or rowing boat laden with goods and a couple of passengers.
Gillian Forrester has suggested that one of the boats (top left) is a felucca, a wooden sailing vessel with a lateen or triangular sail.1 Feluccas were a common mode of transport in the seas around Italy, appearing, for example, in Thomas Jones’s oil study, The Bay of Naples and the Mole Lighthouse 1782 (Tate, T08246) and also within a number of studies within this sketchbook, see folios 2 verso, 5, 7, 19, 21 verso (D15911, D15916, D15919, D15944, D15949). Turner may even have travelled in one himself along the Amalfi coast and the Gulf of Salerno, despite being warned against them by his friend and colleague, James Hakewill (1778–1843), see the Route to Rome sketchbook (Tate D13875; Turner Bequest CLXXI 9). His experiences and on-the-spot sketches may have informed the subject and design for a later unpublished Liber Studiorum plate, The Felucca (see Tate D08175; Turner Bequest CXVIII U).2

Nicola Moorby
July 2010

1
See Forrester 1996, p.146 under no.82.
2
Ibid.

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