Joseph Mallord William Turner

Brighton Beach with Bathing Machines


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 364 × 514 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 11

Catalogue entry

The subject was first published as Brighton Beach in 1947.1 Turner had drawing in the area in the mid-1790s; see the Studies near Brighton sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest XXX) and the watercolour Brighthelmstone of about 1796, which shows fishing boats on the beach (Victoria and Albert Museum, London),2 returning to the now fashionable resort in the mid 1820s; see for example the Brighton and Arundel sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CCX).
Ian Warrell has compared the composition with a drawing in the Arundel and Shoreham sketchbook (Tate D22851; Turner Bequest CCXLV 40a).3 In proposing it as an undeveloped subject for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales, Eric Shanes describes it as ‘a look eastwards ... towards dazzlingly reflective terraced buildings, shadowed bathing machines and sunny but stormy weather’.4 There appear to be figures silhouetted against the sunlit buildings and at least one larger figure in the foreground.
Turner had shown Brighton’s beach, Royal Pavilion and Chain Pier from the sea in a watercolour (Royal Pavilion, Libraries & Museums, Brighton & Hove),5 engraved in 1824 as Brighthelmston, Sussex for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England (Tate impressions: T04420, T04421, T05288–T05295, T05996)
See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified but unrealised subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
[Humphrey Brooke], Turner 1775–1851: Tentoonstelling in het Stedelijk Museum te Amsterdam georganiseerd door de Tate Gallery voor de British Council, exhibition catalogue, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam 1947, p.28 no.60.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.315 no.147, reproduced.
Warrell 1995, p.69.
Shanes 1997, pp.26–7; see also pp.94, 95, 104.
Wilton 1979, p.354 no.479.
Technical notes:
A grey wash appears to have been applied to thin strips along the untrimmed left-hand, right-hand and bottom edges, apparently with the aid of a straight edge, although the function of this wash is unclear. The top edge has been torn irregularly along a fold, and the strip of dark blue-grey at the top left suggests the edge of the sky in another colour study made on the other half of the original Imperial-format sheet.
Blank, save for a little offset blue colour at the bottom left.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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