Catalogue entry

525. [N01876] Sunset c. 1830–5

THE TATE GALLERY, LONDON (1876)

Canvas, 26 1/4 × 32 1/4 (67 × 82)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1928.

Exh. Newcastle 1912 (55).

Lit. Burnet 1852, p. 58; Thornbury 1862, i, p. 169; 1877, p. 121; Armstrong 1902, p. 232; Gage 1969, pp. 36–7, 231 n. 92 (mistakenly as No. 469).

Possibly the work referred to by the younger Trimmer as being among the rolled canvases in the Turner Bequest (Thornbury, loc cit.,; see p. 104): ‘There is a red sunset (simply the sky) among these rolls, the finest sky, to my mind, ever put on canvas.’ The other works mentioned by Trimmer are the larger Thames sketches of c. 1806–7 but this painting was probably painted considerably later, perhaps in the early 1830s. It is however darkened by discoloured megilp which makes assessment difficult.

It may also be the subject of the story told to Burnet by the dealer Woodburn: ‘Driving down to his house at Hendon, a beautiful sunset burst forth; Turner asked to stop the carriage, and remained a long time in silent contemplation. Some weeks afterwards, when Woodburn called on him in Queen Anne Street, he saw this identical sky in his gallery, and wished to have a landscape added to it: Turner refused the commission—he would not part with it.’

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984