Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sunset behind Clouds over the Sea

c.1823–6

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 306 x 468 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25428
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 305

Catalogue entry

There is a glint of red at the centre where the sun has reached the horizon of the unsettled sea, tinting the rolling clouds obscuring it in a blood-like hue. This strongly toned, velvety-textured ‘Little Liber’-like design1 may show the direct influence of Francis Danby’s 1824 painting Sunset at Sea after a Storm (Bristol Museum and Art Gallery), a sensation on its first appearance, as discussed in the overall Introduction to the present section.2
Eric Shanes has compared this work with the canonical ‘Little Liber’ watercolour St Michael’s Mount (Tate D25434; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 311),3 and Ian Warrell has noted a similarity to the perhaps even more apocalyptic Tate D25429 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 306).4 The effect clearly stayed with Turner, as he made a similarly intense variation in the Whalers sketchbook of about 1845 (Tate D35240; Turner Bequest CCCLIII 1).
1
See Warrell 1993, p.295, and Warrell 1994, p.138.
2
See also Wilton 1983, p.233.
3
See Shanes 1997, p.98.
4
See Warrell 2007, p.111.
Verso:
Blank; laid down. White wove paper backing sheet inscribed in pencil ‘76’ right of centre, ascending vertically; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII.305’ bottom centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLXIII – 305’ bottom left.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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