Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figure; Sea and Sky


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 × 86 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXIX a 63 a

Display caption

In this group of studies Turner has managed to capture the final moments of the sun before it disappears below the horizon at the end of the day. The last seconds appear to have been obscured by a bank of cloud. In the fifth volume of 'Modern Painters' Ruskin analysed a similar, apparently slight sketch of a sunrise, declaring that 'I suppose most persons would not see much in it'. He, nevertheless, drew his readers' attention to the importance of such studies, claiming that they helped to fix in Turner's mind vital information which he was then at liberty to call on in his paintings.

Gallery label, September 2004

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