Joseph Mallord William Turner

Details of a Ship of the Line, Particularly the Stern

c.1821

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 112 × 190 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17487
Turner Bequest CXCIX 79

Catalogue entry

As identified by Finberg, Turner here explores the design of a ship of the line.1 Although Finberg suggests multiple ships were recorded here, it seems likely that the detailed studies represent a single vessel.
The drawings all seem to have been composed with the sketchbook inverted relative to its foliation. Left of centre, Turner describes two views of the stern, one observed closely and almost straight-on. The grid of windows in the gallery is clearly indicated and surrounding decorative woodwork alluded to. The other sketch of the stern, to the left of the first, records greater distance between artist and object, and a less direct view. This encompasses slightly more of the side; the hull is elaborated more thoroughly. The decoration framing the gallery windows seems in general shape to emulate that in the drawing already discussed.
At top left, in the corner of the sheet, is a miniature sketch of the full form of a ship of the line with its sails unfurled. To the right of this Turner seems to record a lower part of the stern, beneath the gallery and closer to the rudder, which then as the eye moves further towards the middle of the page transforms convincingly into a hull marked with two discernible open gun ports. At far right, an isolated sketch may show a pair of deadeyes connected with a stretch of rope.
1
Finberg 1909, I, p.609.
Technical notes:
A small tear which encroaches onto this sheet from its left edge has been fixed. Folio 79 verso (D17488) is marked with the fibrous residue of the adhesive used.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

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