Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Seated Woman, Probably at Cowes; Diagrams of Racing Yacht Flags


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 100 × 74 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCVII 74 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, a bonneted woman is shown seated and looking to her left. She is perhaps a spectator watching the yacht racing shown on other pages.
Descending vertically relative to the figure, at the long upper edge Turner has drawn six small diagrams of the racing flags of regatta yachts, labelled ‘Arrow’, ‘Menai’, ‘Scorpion’ ‘Th[...]a’ (for ‘Therese’) ‘Harr’ (for ‘Harriet’) and ‘[?Pe] | Pearl’. Under the last of these are three more arranged vertically, for ‘Mir’ (the ‘Miranda’), and, more obscurely, ‘Dd’ and ‘S[...]’.
There is a drawing of the most successful of these craft in 1827, the Miranda, on folio 70 verso (D18125). The others appear in Turner’s notes of races and the boats involved in the Windsor and Cowes, Isle of Wight sketchbook (Tate D20730; Turner Bequest CCXXVI 80a), which also includes colour notes and diagrams of their flags, and in related press reports. See also the slighter annotations to the scene with yachts on folio 15 verso (D18018).
For more on studies in this sketchbook relating to the regatta events at Cowes from late July 1827 onwards, see the sketchbook Introduction.
Technical notes:
The page is stained by proximity with the leather overlaps under the paste-down inside the back cover opposite (D18133).

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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