J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

Joseph Mallord William Turner Studies of Boats and Figures 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 1 Recto:
Studies of Boats and Figures 1819
D15908
Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 1
Pencil on white wove paper, 113 x 189 mm
Inscribed by the artist in pencil ‘[?nets]’ to right of sketch of centre boat
Inscribed by ?John Ruskin in red ink ‘1’ top right and ‘245’ bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CLXXXVI 1’ bottom right
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This page contains sketches of various types of boats and shipping, as well as some rough figure studies, presumably seen during Turner’s exploration of Naples and the surrounding area in October 1819. The largest of these studies depicts a small fishing or rowing boat laden with goods and a couple of passengers.
Gillian Forrester has suggested that one of the boats (top left) is a felucca, a wooden sailing vessel with a lateen or triangular sail.1 Feluccas were a common mode of transport in the seas around Italy, appearing, for example, in Thomas Jones’s oil study, The Bay of Naples and the Mole Lighthouse 1782 (Tate, T08246) and also within a number of studies within this sketchbook, see folios 2 verso, 5, 7, 19, 21 verso (D15911, D15916, D15919, D15944, D15949). Turner may even have travelled in one himself along the Amalfi coast and the Gulf of Salerno, despite being warned against them by his friend and colleague, James Hakewill (1778–1843), see the Route to Rome sketchbook (Tate D13875; Turner Bequest CLXXI 9). His experiences and on-the-spot sketches may have informed the subject and design for a later unpublished Liber Studiorum plate, The Felucca (see Tate D08175; Turner Bequest CXVIII U).2

Nicola Moorby
July 2010

1
See Forrester 1996, p.146 under no.82.
2
Ibid.

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Studies of Boats and Figures 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, July 2010, 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-studies-of-boats-and-figures-r1137834, accessed 24 October 2014.