Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Bowsprit of a Vessel

c.1821

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 190 x 112 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17430
Turner Bequest CXCIX 39 a

Catalogue entry

As identified by Finberg, the drawing on this page is a detail of a ship’s rigging, specifically the bowsprit.1
Made with the page turned vertically, this drawing is confined within the top portion of the sheet. Composed at a diagonal, reflecting Turner’s position on the deck of the vessel, the bowsprit stretches from its heel at right, inscribed ‘H’ by Turner, to the tip of the jib boom at the top edge, towards the left. The artist demonstrates intense interest in the complex network of ropes and timber, inscribing particular elements as he goes.
Gerald Wilkinson reproduces an image of this page in support of his statement that in this sketchbook and the Folkestone sketchbook of around 1821–2 (Tate; Turner Bequest CXCVIII), ‘the pencil is hard and the detail remarkably thorough, even for [Turner]’.2

Maud Whatley
January 2016

1
Finberg 1909, I, p.608.
2
Wilkinson 1975, p.22.

Read full Catalogue entry

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