Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Sailing Ship


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 144 × 192 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

The sheet is of the ‘colour beginning’ type sometimes used to help formulate topographical subjects (see for instance the ‘England and Wales Colour Studies c.1825–39’ section), but here the object of the exercise seems to have been the evocation of atmosphere and weather; comparable cloud studies and empty beach scenes in the Turner Bequest are addressed elsewhere in this catalogue.
While the blue paper studies comprising the rest of this section largely focus on figures by the sea at the expense of their setting, as noted in the Introduction, here the human and landscape elements have seemingly begun to merge.
Technical notes:
The blue-grey watercolour at the centre has been worked wet in wet, with vague forms seemingly radiating outwards from what appear to be two figures silhouetted against evening light. Colour has been lifted out in horizontal strips towards the left to evoke reflections on waves, while the lower half evokes reflections across an expanse of wet sand.
Blank (not available for inspection at time of writing).

Matthew Imms
December 2015

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