Joseph Mallord William Turner

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


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
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

Display caption

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

Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? We would like to hear from you.

Catalogue entry

The pencil-work in this incomplete study (excluding the ship) appears to be traced from Tate D00167 (Turner Bequest XVI E). It is an ambitious subject, apparently the first sea storm that Turner attempted. Compare the Welsh mountain view with Llanthony Priory, Tate D00679 (Turner Bequest XXVII R) which is a similarly elaborate sublime subject, but taken to completion.
There are blue colour trials at the bottom edge.
Technical notes:
The sheet was formerly folded vertically down the centre.
Blank; stained and dirty.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like

In the shop