Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘The Landing of Columbus’, Rogers’s ‘Poems’


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 249 x 352 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 12

Catalogue entry

This is a preliminary study for the finished watercolour, The Landing of Columbus, one of seven vignette illustrations which Turner designed for ‘The Voyage of Columbus’, the last work in Rogers’s Poems (see Tate D27708; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 191). Like the final design, the scene shows Columbus and his crew embarking from a small boat onto the shore with their ship in the background. Turner has roughly outlined these details in pencil whilst using light washes of colour to sketch in the surrounding sea, cliffs and a sunlit cove. Within the approaching rowing boat can be seen a couple of figures bearing crosses, a detail which the artist retained in the final version of the subject at the head of the procession. The rest of the composition, however, differs significantly from the finished work. Instead of the solitary standing figure welcoming the newcomers ashore, Turner substituted a throng of Native Americans.
Turner produced two additional preparatory studies related to this vignette (see Tate D27711; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 194 and Tate D27616; Turner Bequest, CCLXXX 99).
Technical notes
Watermark ‘...Turners 1828’
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘[?Willm] [...]’ top left and ‘[?delin ?lt]’ centre and ‘AB 117 P | M’ and ‘CCLXXX 12’ bottom right. Also in red ink ‘714’ bottom left

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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