Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Clouds above St Michael’s Mount


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 305 × 488 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 73

Catalogue entry

This colour study has been described by Eric Shanes as possible ‘a testing ground for the down-brushing effect’1 of the rainclouds depicted in the sky of the watercolour Mount St Michael, Cornwall of about 1836 (University of Liverpool),2 engraved in 1838 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04612, T06129).3
The cloud forms correspond with those at the top centre and right of the watercolour, although there is no indication of any topographical setting in the lower half of the sheet, where the Mount appears towards the left and Marazion towards the right in the distance beyond a busy foreground beach scene in the finished design; a definite link with the present study is thus likely to remain elusive. The England and Wales watercolour was based on two adjacent drawings in the 1811 Ivy Bridge to Penzance sketchbook (Tate D08931, D08932; Turner Bequest CXXV 42a, 43), both of which are unusual in indicating specific weather conditions, showing rolling, heavy clouds, albeit in pencil outline only.
Other ‘colour beginnings’ apparently of St Michael’s Mount, possibly made as exploratory studies for an alternative England and Wales design, are Tate D25187 and D25514 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 65, 390).
See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
Shanes 1997, p.27.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.403 no.880, reproduced.
Shanes 1997, pp.94, 96, 101, 104.
Blank (laid down and not examined).

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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