Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘The Shipwreck’

c.1799–1805

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 436 x 271 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D05034
Turner Bequest LXXXI 132

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the subject is continued on folio 68 recto opposite (D05035; Turner Bequest LXXXI 133). It presents the principal elements in Turner’s ambitious painting of 1805, The Shipwreck (Tate N00476):1 the fishing boat sailing to the rescue of passengers floundering in small life–boats, and, beyond, the tangle of spars, rigging and hull that is the wrecked vessel itself. These ideas are further explored on folios 69 verso–70 recto (D05038–D05039; Turner Bequest LXXXI 136–137).
The picture was probably one of the last to receive his attention in this sketchbook; the ideas for it can be seen here growing organically from his thinking about other marine subjects over the previous five years. One of the first studies in this book is also for The Shipwreck, on folio 1 verso (D04903; Turner Bequest LXXXI 2), under which other sketches are noted.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

1
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.43 no.54, pl.64 (colour).

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