Joseph Mallord William Turner

Buildings, Perhaps at a Quayside with Moored Sailing Boats


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Support: 226 × 287 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, and not mentioned in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory,1 this slight drawing shows two tall, barely articulated buildings with shallow roofs at the left, with slight vertical strokes and a curved shape suggesting masts the masts of small boats and a partly furled sail; the setting is perhaps a quay with warehouses. Either side of the centre are very faint indications of similar roofs with the eaves apparently at eye level, seemingly independent of the left-hand group.
The subject was presumably sketched directly at an actual location, but whether on Lake Como or in Venice (see the watercolours which were originally pages at the other end of this sketchbook; D15251–D15252, D15254–D15256, D15258; Turner Bequest CLXXXI 1, 2, 4–7), or somewhere entirely different, is likely to remain unresolved. This is the only drawing at the back of the book as foliated, after a run of twenty-nine completely blank leaves, and it is possible that Turner used it before the 1819–20 Italian tour (other leaves being watermarked 1816) or took it up again briefly later on.

Matthew Imms
March 2017

See A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.I, p.535.

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