Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Rainbow above a Landscape


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 306 × 488 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 174

Catalogue entry

This elemental evocation of a rainbow over a bright landscape has been noted in passing by Eric Shanes as possibly related to a colour study (Tate D25272; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 150)1 for the Ports of England watercolour design Plymouth (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon);2 as the rainbow in that subject rises to the right, and it is usually dated to about 1825 in relation to its being engraved in 1828 (Tate impression: T04835), the 1828 watermark of the present sheet seems to preclude a direct connection. Nevertheless, just as in D25272, the bright colours of the rainbow itself are evoked by a contrast of a simple undeveloped arc of warm ochre against the cool blues of the sky. Compare also the full rainbow in Tate D17182 (Turner Bequest CXCVI R), watermarked 1816.
See Shanes 1997, p.51.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.388 no.760, reproduced.
Technical notes:
The sheet is darkened and stained at the bottom right corner.
Blank; inscribed by John Ruskin in pencil ‘AB 150 P | O’ top left, upside down; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII | 174’ bottom right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLXIII – 174’ bottom right.
There is some heavy brown staining.

Matthew Imms
March 2016

Read full Catalogue entry


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