View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
The central sun here, reserved as a blank disk of white paper, appears to be low over water, probably the sea with what may be a stretch of sandy beach in the foreground, all suffused with the ‘reddish colour of the sky’ while leaving ‘the source of the light pure’, as Ian Warrell has described it.1 Gerald Wilkinson has noted a ‘controlled brilliance achieved without primary colours’.2 Finberg thought it a sunrise,3 but it has also been exhibited and reproduced as a sunset.
Andrew Wilton has observed that the ‘rich colour and full-bodied paint suggest a date in the 1820s, rather than later’, comparing this study with Tate D25334 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 212), associated with the ‘Little Liber’ series4 (see ‘Little Liber c.1823–6’ in the present catalogue); Lindsay Stainton has concurred, noting the 1823 watermark of a similar work,5 presumably Tate D25186 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 64), a variation on the sun over water theme.
In regarding this sheet as dating from a little later in the 1820s, Ian Warrell has noted that such studies, with their ‘understanding gained through the kind of colour chiaroscuro’ seen here, informed the ‘richness’6 of the skies in paintings of the period such as Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus – Homer’s Odyssey, exhibited in 1829 (Turner Bequest, National Gallery, London),7 as well as informing the atmospheric effects of topographical watercolours in the Rivers of England and Picturesque Views in England and Wales series of the 1820s and 1830s.8
For other ‘colour beginnings’ focusing on a centrally placed sun, see the Introduction to this subsection.9
Warrell 1991, p.40.
Wilkinson 1975, p.140.
See Finberg 1909, II, p.830.
Wilton 1975, p.71.
See Stainton 1981, p.99.
Warrell 1991, p.11.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.183–5 no.330, pl.331 (colour).
Warrell 1991, p.41.
See also Warrell 1991, p.40.
Blank; inscribed by John Ruskin in pencil ‘AB 79 P | O’ top left, upside down; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII | 210’ bottom right; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII. 210’ top right, upside down.
The bottom edge appears dusty and darkened.