Sir Augustus Wall Callcott

Sheerness and the Isle of Sheppey (after J.M.W. Turner)


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Not on display

Sir Augustus Wall Callcott 1779–1844
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 698 × 895 mm
frame: 1007 × 1205 × 84 mm
Bequeathed by John Meeson Parsons 1870

Display caption

Visiting Turner’s Gallery in 1807, the President of the Royal Academy, Benjamin West, found ‘views on the Thames, crude blotches, nothing could be more vicious’. Among them was the original of this composition (National Gallery, Washington DC), in fact one of the finest of Turner’s breezy Thames marines.

Turner’s Sheerness was bought by Thomas Lister Parker, who seems later to have sold it and asked Callcott, a friend and admirer of Turner, to paint him a copy. This smaller version is probably a study for Callcott’s copy.

Gallery label, February 2010

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Catalogue entry

[from] Works No Longer Attributed to Turner

Nos. 542–3: Sir Augustus Wall Callcott (1779–1844)

542. [N00813] Copy of ‘Sheerness and the Isle of Sheppey’ c. 1807–8


Canvas, 27 1/2 × 35 1/2 (70 × 89·5)

Coll. ...; John Meeson Parsons, bequeathed 1870 to the National Gallery; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1912.

Lit. Catalogue of the Pictures in the National Gallery; ...British School 1878, p. 168; MacColl 1920, p. 28; Mary Chamot, The Tate Gallery: British School, A Concise Catalogue 1953, p. 261; Brown 1975, pp. 721–2, repr. p. 719, fig. 40.

A copy of the picture now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington (No. 62); there is a still smaller, more freely handled version in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (No. 543). Accepted in 1878 as a genuine Turner of about 1801 and retained as such by MacColl, though by then the relationship with the Washington and Oxford pictures had been noticed, the date amended to about 1808, and a note added that ‘Doubts have been cast on the authenticity of the picture, because of the construction of one of the sails’. Mary Chamot, in 1953, relegated the picture to ‘ascribed to J. M. W. Turner’, and it was recognised as a copy in the Tate Gallery catalogues from 1967. David Brown was the first to attribute this and the Oxford version to Callcott, as works done for his own instruction a little before he painted the life-size replica still at Browsholme Hall, the home of Thomas Lister Parker, who bought the original in 1807.

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984

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