Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boat Sailing on the River Seine at Rouen


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 123 × 118 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLVIII 15

Catalogue entry

This rather modest sketch of a sail boat, drawn at the head of the page, has proved to be an important piece of evidence for dating this sketchbook and identifying one of Turner’s oil sketches. Ian Warrell has linked the sketch to another drawing of the same boat on a loose sheet of paper that once belonged to the Paris, Seine and Dieppe sketchbook, which proves that the two books were used on the same tour of northern France in 1821 (Tate D25519; Turner Bequest CCLXIII (a) 4).1 That sketch, which includes the towers of Rouen Cathedral in the background and a punt at the left, provides the composition for an oil sketch made around 1827–8 (Tate N03386) that was once thought to be an Italian subject.2 The boat can also be connected to a watercolour and gouache study executed around 1832: Tate D24727 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 162).3
Finberg noted the inscription ‘Cup’ at the bottom of the sketch, which has been interpreted as one of Turner’s many references to the Dutch artist Aelbert Cuyp (1620–1691) as an indication of a golden yellow hue.4 The yellow sail of the boat in the oil study, and a shaft of golden light on its stern are an indication of Turner’s adoption of the Cuypian style of marine painting.

Thomas Ardill
February 2013

Warrell 1999, p.24.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.179 no.317 as Fishing Boat in a Mist, 1828; Warrell 1999, p.268 under no.55 as A Sail Boat, Rouen, ?1827–8.
Warrell 1999, pp.24, 268 under no.55.
Joll, Butlin and Herrmann 2001, p.69.

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