Joseph Mallord William Turner

Coastal Terrain


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 139 × 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 210

Technique and condition

This painting is in watercolour and gouache on a medium to heavy weight, blue, wove paper. The paper has no watermark. All four edges of the sheet have been torn rather than cut.
The paint application is particularly dense in this work and a heavy impasto is evident in the white areas, particularly in the sky and the foreground detail, where the artist has used an underbound lead white gouache to great effect. Some areas, such as the blue at the bottom of the sky, are more fluid in style and the paint – although still fairly dense – has been mixed with a larger amount of water.
The blue of the paper has been used to great effect in this work, particularly in the sky where the contrast between the blue paper and the white impasto gives depth to the clouds. Highlights in a cream coloured gouache were added last. The work is in good condition with the colours retaining much of their vibrancy.
There is some minor cockling across the surface of the sheet which was probably caused by the heavy impasto paint application. Adhesive staining is evident around the edges of the verso where the work has previously been inlaid onto another sheet. There are also several traces of white and blue gouache on the verso of the sheet. A small dark brown stain is visible in the bottom left-hand corner of the recto.

Helen Evans
April 2009

Catalogue entry

This is one of a large number of sketches on loose sheets of paper depicting coastal terrain and seagoing vessels in various combinations. For the grouping and dating of these works to the middle and later periods of Turner’s career, see the section introduction.
The verso is attached to the mount.

John Chu
June 2015

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