Joseph Mallord William Turner

?A Steamer off Margate


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 86 × 111 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

The studies of the sun and clouds over the sea on folios 105 recto–108 recto (D35677–D35783) and here were perhaps all made from the vicinity of Mrs Booth’s house in Margate, looking north over the beach, a favourite vantage point for the artist (see for example the group of ‘Margate Beach Scenes’ in the ‘Margate, London and Surrey c.1829–45’ section of this catalogue). The lighthouse on the adjacent pier may be shown in D35681, and neighbouring Droit House in D35683. For other Margate views, see under folio 99 verso (D35666).
Turner’s long but elusive inscription at the bottom may be a note of conditions or possibly a poetic allusion touched off by the scene and the ‘Sand yellow’ he notes in particular. Compare ‘Girl danc[ing] in circles over the yellow sand | come unto the Yellow Sands’ on folio 5 recto of the contemporary Channel sketchbook (Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven),1 the second line being a well-known quotation from Shakespeare’s Tempest.2
See Andrew Wilton, ‘A Rediscovered Turner Sketchbook’, Turner Studies, vol.6. no.2, Winter 1986, p.11 ill.1, with transcription.
See ibid., p.10; Tempest, I. ii. 375.
Technical notes:
There is overall darkening and staining, possibly indicating water damage in the 1928 Tate flood.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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