Joseph Mallord William Turner

The River Medway, Near Sheerness

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: 112 x 190 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17383
Turner Bequest CXCIX 11 a

Catalogue entry

As recorded by Finberg, across this and the facing page on folio 12 recto (D17384), Turner produces sketches which seem to describe sailing vessels and topographical views in the vicinity of Sheerness, at the mouth of the River Medway.1 John Gage corroborates this identification.2
The present sheet is occupied by two drawings, the lower of which crosses the gutter and is continued on the facing page. The portion visible here describes a cluster of boats, which seem collectively to obscure a slice of flat, hatched topography behind.
Across the whole top half of the sheet is an inscribed topographical sketch. Turner describes what seem to be riverbanks, overlapping as they extend into the distance. At Sheerness, identified towards top left by a scrawled inscription, a tall chimney emits a tall, winding plume of smoke. ‘River S’ presumably refers to the River Swale. A number of drawings within this sketchbook appear to describe Queenborough on the Swale. These can be found on folios 5 verso, 6 recto, 8 recto, 85 recto, and 86 recto (D17374–D17375, D17378, D17497, and D17499).
The two pages which follow the current sheet, on folio 12 recto and 12 verso (D17384 and D17385) also illustrate views of Sheerness, a theme which Turner does not appear to pursue again until the end of the sketchbook, on folios 86 verso and 90 verso (D17499 and D17507). For an indication of the prevalence of Sheerness within Turner’s oeuvre more generally, refer to the entry for folio 12 verso.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

1
Finberg 1909, I, p.607.
2
Clark, Davidson, & Gage 1964, p.32.

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