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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Sketchbooks and Drawings of Marine and Naval Subjects: the Victory, the Battle of Trafalgar, Captured Danish Ships and a Review at Portsmouth c.1803–14

A Shipwreck c.1805 (from Shipwreck (2) sketchbook)

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These sketchbooks and drawings relate to Turner’s work on various marine subjects, beginning in 1803 with Boats Carrying out Anchors and Cables to Dutch Men of War, in 1665 (Corcoran Gallery of Art, W.A. Clarke Collection, Washington D.C.), moving on to the Battle of Trafalgar and its aftermath, 1805–6, Danish ships captured at Copenhagen in 1807 and a naval review at Spithead in 1814. The Shipwreck and Nelson sketchbooks are uniform in format and wrapping and were probably kept and used together. They show how Turner’s interests and projects tended to overlap, although the breaking up of their contents by John Ruskin and others, and subsequent rearrangement and restitching may have blurred distinctions between them. Of the two Shipwreck books, the first is mainly devoted to wrecks in open sea, including studies for The Shipwreck, 1805 (Tate N00476) and Wreck of a Transport Ship, circa 1810 (Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon); it also contains lists of ...
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Shipwreck (1) sketchbook circa 1803–10
D05376–D05427; D40694–D40696
Turner Bequest LXXXVII
Shipwreck (2) sketchbook circa 1805
D05428–D05445; D40697–D40700
Turner Bequest LXXXVIII
Nelson sketchbook circa 1805–6
D05446–D05490; D40701–D40705; D41427
Turner Bequest LXXXIX
D08243
Turner Bequest CXX c
D08275
Vaughan Bequest CXXI S
D08266
Turner Bequest CXXI K
Spithead Sketchbook circa 1807–9
D06518–D06617; D06716–D06719; D40605–D40615; D40732; D41428–D41430; D41495
Turner Bequest C
Review at Portsmouth sketchbook 1814
D09987–D10204; D40829–D40833
Turner Bequest CXXXVI
These sketchbooks and drawings relate to Turner’s work on various marine subjects, beginning in 1803 with Boats Carrying out Anchors and Cables to Dutch Men of War, in 1665 (Corcoran Gallery of Art, W.A. Clarke Collection, Washington D.C.),1 moving on to the Battle of Trafalgar and its aftermath, 1805–6, Danish ships captured at Copenhagen in 1807 and a naval review at Spithead in 1814.
The Shipwreck and Nelson sketchbooks are uniform in format and wrapping and were probably kept and used together. They show how Turner’s interests and projects tended to overlap, although the breaking up of their contents by John Ruskin and others, and subsequent rearrangement and restitching may have blurred distinctions between them. Of the two Shipwreck books, the first is mainly devoted to wrecks in open sea, including studies for The Shipwreck, 1805 (Tate N00476)2 and Wreck of a Transport Ship, circa 1810 (Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon);3 it also contains lists of subscribers to Charles Turner’s mezzotint of the former picture. The second book focuses on coastal wrecks although a study for The Shipwreck is (mis)placed in it. However, perhaps to use up some remaining free pages and because it was the same format, Turner took Shipwreck (1) as well as the Nelson book to draw the Victory and other shipping at Sheerness and Chatham at Christmas 1805 and shortly afterwards, when Victory returned after the Battle of Trafalgar. Turner’s sketches and memoranda of Nelson’s flagship and veterans of the battle are predominantly in the Nelson book. D08243 and D08275 are larger, separate studies of the Victory’s deck while D08266 and D08267 are respectively an illustrated key and a prose description of The Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory, 1806 reworked 1808 (Tate N00480).4
Turner used the Spithead sketchbook at Portsmouth in November 1807, when he went to see the arrival of ships from the Danish navy after their surrender to the British at Copenhagen. It contains material used for Spithead: Boat’s Crew Recovering an Anchor, 1808 (Tate N00481)5 as well as a study for The Sun Rising through Vapour, ?1809 (Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham).6 The Review at Portsmouth book bore witness to a naval review hosted by the Prince Regent and attended by the Tsar of Russia and the King of Prussia on 23 June 1814.
1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.40–1 no.52 (pl. 62).
2
Ibid., p.43 no.54 (pl.64).
3
Ibid., p.128–9 no.210 (pl.213).
4
Ibid., p.46 no.58 (pl.68).
5
Ibid., pp.60–1 no.80 (pl.90).
6
Ibid., pp.68–9 no.95 (pl.103).

David Blayney Brown
December 2005

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘Sketchbooks and Drawings of Marine and Naval Subjects: the Victory, the Battle of Trafalgar, Captured Danish Ships and a Review at Portsmouth c.1803–14’, December 2005, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/sketchbooks-and-drawings-of-marine-and-naval-subjects-the-victory-the-battle-of-trafalgar-r1105938, accessed 24 October 2017.