Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Barge; a Sunset or Dawn Sky


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 98 × 162 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

Turner’s slightly disjointed main subject is a barge with a mast at the bows, from which a rope appears to extend, pulled by a figure on the far side. A similar figure, at first sight on the near side, may be the same one in what seems to be a less detailed reprise of the subject from another angle below. Under the main view, from the centre of the page along to the right, are notes on the cargo: ‘[?Trunk]’, ‘[?Sugar h... Sack]’. The craft was presumably observed somewhere on the River Thames, the subject of many studies in this sketchbook, as set out in the Introduction; sketches on folio 1 recto opposite (D17834) were made at ‘Wapping’, down-river of Old London Bridge.
With the page turned vertically, the outer third is taken up with a delicate study of a cloudy sky, inscribed from top to bottom on the right with the following colour notes: ‘Brown Dun’, ‘yellowish’, ‘Warm Dun’, ‘Red Pink’, and ‘cold grey’. The sun is shown half-way over the horizon, either at dawn or sunset. The latter may be the case, as there is an annotated view of a ‘sunset’ at Twickenham on folio 2 recto (D17836); compare also the sky studies on folios 2 recto and verso, 3 verso (at Kew) and 5 recto (D17837, D17839, D17842).
Towards the bottom right is the endorsement of Turner’s executors, with the book’s original schedule number endorsed by Henry Scott Trimmer, Charles Turner, Charles Lock Eastlake and John Prescott Knight, starting in ink: ‘No. 244 Containing | 44 Leaves. most in Pencil & | [...] Indian Ink. – – | H.S. Trimmer | C Turner’, and initialled in pencil ‘C.L.E.’ and ‘JPK’ below to the left.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

Read full Catalogue entry


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