This painting on cream wove drawing paper has a very detailed drawing in graphite pencil which depicts the entire composition with the exception of the masts, which have been painted in using a fine brush. Coloured washes were applied more freely, and the details of faces and costumes were created used colour alone. Whites in the painting have been created by leaving blank areas and allowing the paper to show through. The sailors’ costumes were all painted over areas of reserved white, which confers luminosity to these areas. The cloudy sky, in contrast, has overlapping washes to form the sky and grey and purplish clouds.
Pigments used include two red lakes, vermilion, natural ultramarine, and probably indigo and gamboge (deep yellow) or a yellow lake. The first three were used in the sky in combination with the indigo to create the clouds and the choppy water. Such mixed greys, also known as optical blacks, are very common in Turner’s skies and to a reasonable extent also in his seas: he rather rarely depicted grey clouds with a pale wash of black pigment when he was already using other colours in the same work.
How to cite
Helen Evans, 'Technique and Condition', October 2008, revised by Joyce Townsend, February 2011, in Andrew Wilton, ‘Sailors Getting Pigs on Board a Boat in a Choppy Sea 1792–3 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 2012, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-sailors-getting-pigs-on-board-a-boat-in-a-choppy-sea-r1141148, accessed 24 September 2014.