Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Shrimper and his Dog


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk on paper
Support: 139 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLX 110

Catalogue entry

The significance of the very slight elements of this sketch, a horizon, a parallel line below perhaps marking the water’s edge, a small coastal structure, and the silhouette of an apparently stooping, silhouetted figure, are clarified by Turner’s note, ‘Shrimper and his dog’, although the animal is not readily evident. White marks to the right may evoke a sail or a cliff.
As Finberg observed,1 the inscription recalls the boy and his leaping dog on the empty twilit beach in The Evening Star, an unfinished painting of about 1830 (Turner Bequest, National Gallery, London);2 see also the scraps of verse on the theme made around that time in the Worcester and Shrewsbury sketchbook (in particular Tate D22279; Turner Bequest CCXXXIX 70).
See the Introduction for other blue paper sketches perhaps relating to finished works. In this instance Finberg’s generic date of about 1830 has been retained, assuming a possible direct link to the painting.
Finberg 1909, II, p.812.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.284–5 no.453, pl.454 (colour).
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘10’ bottom right (possibly with more obscured; inscribed in pencil ‘D.24946’ bottom left. There is a border of white paper or tape, with more paper adhering, indicating that the sheet was formerly mounted.

Matthew Imms
December 2015

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