Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figure Studies, Perhaps by the Sea or the River Thames; ?Horses and Carts with Sailing Boats


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 188 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXII 1

Catalogue entry

In August 1825 Turner was abroad in the Low Countries, and it is possible that some of the scattered figure studies here, which Finberg characterised as ‘on the sands’,1 may relate to that visit, although drawings on nearby pages show the familiar scene from the top of Richmond Hill (see the Introduction). The people here do not appear especially exotic, except perhaps the bonneted ‘Water C[arrier]’ at the bottom left with another figure. There are apparently two studies of the same pair of men reclining; in the upper version they are shown in the end of a boat, with rigging above them.
At least two of the three men on the right seem to be engaged in a game of ‘ducks and drakes’, with the middle one crouching to skip a stone across the water’s surface and slight indications of circular ripples to their left; the game could equally well be played beside a river or a calm sea. At the top right is a slight and somewhat rubbed study, probably showing horses and carts involved in loading or unloading sailing boats. Compare the studies of figures and boats inside the back cover (D40973).
Finberg 1909, II, p.646.
Technical notes:
The centre of the outer edge is rubbed, nicked and creased through contact with the brass clasp inside the front cover opposite (D40969).

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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