Joseph Mallord William TurnerStudy for 'Columbus Setting Sail', for Rogers's 'Poems' c.1830-2

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Artwork details

Study for 'Columbus Setting Sail', for Rogers's 'Poems'
Date c.1830-2
MediumGraphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensionssupport: 247 x 309 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 18
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Study for ‘Columbus Setting Sail’, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’ circa 1830–2
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 18
Pencil and watercolour, approximately 110 x 112 mm on white wove paper, 247 x 308 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘(18’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 18’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Jan Piggott has identified this unfinished watercolour as a preparatory study for Columbus Setting Sail, the second of seven illustrations that Turner produced for Rogers’s long poem, ‘The Voyage of Columbus’ (see Tate D27706; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 189). The study shows a church on a small verdant outcrop, along with a white pillared building on the far left which Piggott suggests may be Palos in the Gulf of Cadiz. Turner’s finished version also shows a basilica resting on a promontory, although it appears from a different and more distant perspective. Furthermore, several masts have been hastily drawn in pencil on the right side of the composition, possibly to suggest Columbus’s departing ships.
The style and medium of this sketch are typical of Turner’s preparatory studies for Rogers’s Poems, which tend to be executed in pencil and light watercolour wash. Another preliminary design has also been identified for Columbus Setting Sail (see Tate D27536; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 19)
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘AB 117 P | M’ bottom right and ‘CCLXIII.18’ lower right

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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