Joseph Mallord William Turner

Diagrams of ?Sails


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 100 × 160 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

There is not a correct single orientation for this page, as Turner has worked on it from both ends. With the page turned vertically and the clasp at the top, Turner has inscribed various sets of numerals around the diagrams at that end. Above the small diagram at the top right are ‘12’, ‘10’, ‘6’ and ‘10’. Around the sail-shaped central diagram are ‘16’, ‘30’, ‘28’, ‘31’ and ‘42’, with the ‘52’ and ‘64’ beside the diagonal line running off down to the left appearing to be part of the same sequence. Beneath is a smaller sail-like diagram, numbered ‘10’, ‘26’ and ‘10’ underneath.
With the page turned vertically the opposite way, working down from the gutter, a rough quadrilateral at the top right is inscribed ‘46’ underneath, and ‘168’ and ‘152’ to the left and right, with these two numbers descending vertically. Then, there is another sail shape, numbered ‘9’ above, and with a column of figures below: ’24 | 43 | 60 | 74 | 92’. There is presumably some relationship to the nautical subjects around Portsmouth in the first half of this sketchbook, including shipping under sail (see the Introduction). Compare the geometric diagram in the Old London Bridge sketchbook (Tate D40962; Turner Bequest CCV 23a).

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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