Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Two-Masted Sailing Ship Seen from the Shore; a Groyne in the Foreground


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 201 × 271 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXIII R

Display caption

Shipping seen in profile against the horizon was a favourite pictorial device inherited from Dutch marine painting. Britain’s military strength and commercial prosperity was, like that of the Netherlands, founded on its naval prowess and the British shared the Dutch enthusiasm for paintings of ships on the ocean. Turner’s early sea pictures nearly always integrate ships or boats into the composition.

The wooden structure in the foreground is a groyne, a protective device built between the shore and the sea to prevent the beach from washing away.

Gallery label, April 2005

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