Joseph Mallord William Turner

?A Church Spire Reflected in Water, with Storm Clouds


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Ink wash on paper
Support: 98 × 162 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCV 32

Display caption

The monochrome studies in this sketchbook may be related to a group of mezzotints Turner produced in the first half of the 1820s, which are generally known as the 'Little Liber'. Watercolour designs are now known for most of the mezzotints; one is included in this display. However, while the engraved compositions are all painted in colour, the studies in this book explore similar subdued and occluded lighting effects in a more limited tonal range. This study, with its architectural motif set against bright light under a heavy sky, partly anticipates one of the prints from the 'Little Liber' series, which has been tentatively identified as a view of 'Gloucester Cathedral'.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

Against the bright gap below lowering clouds on the left, a vertical feature, perhaps a church spire, is silhouetted, and reflected in water in the foreground. The boundary between cloud and landscape becomes indistinguishable towards the right. This is one of a sequence of fourteen monochrome, tonal studies of landscapes and cloudy skies running from about the middle of the sketchbook onwards; for the others and further discussion, see the Introduction.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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