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

Joseph Mallord William Turner Vignette study, possibly for 'The Death-Boat of Heligoland' for Campbell's 'Poetical Works' c.1835-6

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Vignette study, possibly for ‘The Death-Boat of Heligoland’ for Campbell’s ‘Poetical Works’ circa 1835–6
D27592
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 75
Watercolour, approximately 190 x 175 mm on off-white machine-made cartridge paper, 212 x 232 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘(75’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 75’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This work is one of a group of more than thirty watercolour studies in the Turner Bequest that appear to be preparatory sketches for Campbell’s Poetical Works. They are all painted on cheap, lightweight paper and executed in a rough, loose style. Although it is too vague to be conclusively linked to any of Turner’s finished Campbell illustrations, the suggestion of a stormy sea and the dark blue-black core of this study may link it to The Death-Boat of Heligoland, circa 1835 (National Gallery of Scotland).1 There is also some resemblance to another unidentified work (see Tate D27564; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 47).
1
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, no.1288; reproduced in colour in Mungo Campbell, A Complete Catalogue of Works by Turner in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh 1993, p.63.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower has noted that this study is made on off-white low-grade machine-made cartridge paper. The maker is unknown and there is no watermark. This paper would have been relatively cheap to buy and was inferior to standard drawing papers. Turner has used the ‘felt’ side of the sheet which has slightly more texture than the ‘wire’ side, allowing better adhesion of pigment and graphite to the surface of the sheet. Many of Turner’s vignette studies were made on a similar grade of machine-made paper, and the artist employed the ‘felt’ side on all of them.1
1
Bower 1999, p.59.
Verso:
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘CCLXXX 75’ top left, inverted

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

How to cite

Meredith Gamer, ‘Vignette study, possibly for ‘The Death-Boat of Heligoland’ for Campbell’s ‘Poetical Works’ c.1835–6 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2006, 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-vignette-study-possibly-for-the-death-boat-of-heligoland-for-r1133416, accessed 24 November 2014.