Catalogue entry

386. [N00526] The New Moon; or, ‘I've lost My Boat, You shan't have Your Hoop’ Exh. 1840

THE TATE GALLERY, LONDON (526)

Mahogany, 25 3/4 × 32 (65·5 × 81·5)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (90, ‘The New Moon’ 4'3" (sic) × 2'3 1/2"); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1910.

Exh. R.A. 1840 (243); Paris 1953 (83, pl. 36).

Lit. Thornbury 1862, i, p. 346; 1877, p. 465; Bell 1901, p. 140 no. 222; Armstrong 1902, p. 225; Davies 1946, p. 187; Finberg 1961, pp. 379, 505 no. 534; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, p. 48; Reynolds 1969, p. 179.

A rebate along the right-hand edge shows that the picture was partly painted in its frame. The paint was quickly and thickly applied in places, resulting in a very pronounced craquelure.

The picture came in for its fair share of the abuse or occasional qualified praise earned by Turner's 1840 exhibits. For the ever-hostile Blackwood's Magazine, September 1840, ‘The painting does not belie the silliness of the title ... What can the moon have to do with the loss of a hoop and a boat? Who would have imagined this to be moonlight? It is far below even “moonshine”. There is a red child squalling lustily. The moral is, that spoiled children of all ages do very silly things.’ The Times for 6 May dismissed the sub-title as ‘unintelligible periphrasis’, after beginning, ‘This new moon has the merit of being perfectly novel. It resembles no moon that has ever yet illumined the heavens. The substance appears to be putty.’ Only the Spectator for 16 May conceded that the picture had ‘a semblance to nature when viewed from the middle of the room’.

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