Joseph Mallord William Turner

Boats Seen from the Beach: A Lee Shore


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk on paper
Support: 436 × 271 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXI 94

Catalogue entry

The subject is continued on folio 49 recto opposite (D04997; Turner Bequest LXXXI 95). Other versions of the design are on folios 33 verso–45 recto, 47 verso–48 recto and 50 verso–51 recto (D04988–D04989, D04994–D04995, D05000–D05001; Turner Bequest LXXXI 86–87, 92–93, 98–99).
Here Turner shows his recurrent interest in subjects in which individual elements are superimposed in an apparently impenetrable visual tangle: Ships Bearing up for Anchorage (‘The Egremont Seapiece’), exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1802 (Tate T03868, displayed at Petworth House, West Sussex),1 is an example; see folios 33 verso–34 recto, 34 verso–35 recto and 37 verso–38 recto (D04966–D04969, D04974–D04975; Turner Bequest LXXXI 64–65, 66–67, 72–73). A canvas of 1804, Boats Carrying out Anchors and Cables to Dutch Men of War, in 1665 (Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC),2 uses the device seen here, of a small boat directly in front of a larger one; in this case, the latter is in sharp foreshortening, viewed from the stern.
The motif of a small boat breasting a steep breaker close to the shore is the principal subject of Fishermen upon a Lee–Shore, in Squally Weather, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1802 (Southampton Art Gallery),3 studied on folios 43 verso–44 recto, 49 verso–50 recto and 51 verso–52 recto (D04986–D04987, D04998–D04999, D05002–D05003; Turner Bequest LXXXI 84–85, 96–97, 100–101).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.17 no.18, pl.14 (colour).
Ibid., pp.40–1 no.52, pl.62 (colour).
Ibid., pp.15–16 no.16, pl.12 (colour).

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