Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dover: The Pier, with a Ship at Sea in a Storm


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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Part of
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 256 × 361 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XVI G

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When Turner was young he often stayed with his mother's relatives in Margate; some of his earliest marine images feature the surrounding Kent coastline. This unfinished watercolour shows a stormy sea at Dover. The large windlass (a capstan for hoisting heavy weights) and the flagstaff on the pier have been left in pencil outline.

However, Turner has used watercolour washes to convey the surging movement of the waves and the threatening nature of the sky. The subdued colour palette of grey, green and blue is characteristic of late-eighteenth-century watercolour painting.

Gallery label, July 2008

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