Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tancarville: Colour Beginning


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

Watercolour on paper
Support: 307 x 488 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 17

Display caption

This is the full-sized colour study for the finished watercolour that Turner made for the Swinburne family (British Museum). There are many such 'colour beginnings' in the Turner Bequest, in which the artist carefully plots out his composition and colour harmonies before embarking on the finished design. This practice, however, became increasingly rare in the 1840s. The finished watercolours Turner made in these years, almost invariably of Alpine subjects, were usually based on watercolour studies made on the spot or later on the tour. He therefore had no need to make further colour studies.
The finished 'Tancarville' is a landscape of Classical repose, bathed in brilliant sunshine.

Gallery label, September 2004