Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figures on Shore, Perhaps at Margate; Studies of Dawn or Sunset over the Sea

c.1831–45

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 172 × 155 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D34583
Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 190v

Catalogue entry

There are at least five rapid studies here, separated by horizontal pencil lines. In the top half are two similar sketches of silhouetted figures by the sea, perhaps at Margate, although the significance of the letters ‘L’ and ‘LN’ (the latter apparently being repeated below) is unclear. The crescent shape over the second view may indicate the waning moon.
The third quarter shows the sun low over the sea, with a central bright strip of reflection across the shaded waters. The words ‘All’ and ‘Gold’ flank the sun and a small ‘x’, with a cryptic note which may read ‘2B of B’ to the right. Below are typically scrawled observations: ‘First [?L...] after the | [...] | the sea [?very Dark] along the [...] | On the very Edge [... W ?V ...] | [...] x’. Below are two more cursory sketches of the sun over the horizon, so slight as to make it uncertain whether it is rising or setting. Each is briefly annotated, the second apparently with a letter ‘H’.
In physical respects (see the technical notes below) and subject matter, this drawing is closely related to a number of others in this subsection and elsewhere, as discussed under Tate D34337 (Turner Bequest CCCXLIII 36a).
Technical notes:
Tate D34582–D34585 (Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 190, 190v, 191, 191v) are all on a single sheet, folded vertically (the horizontal dimensions given above being for the whole sheet with notches at the head and foot of the fold. D34582 is to the right of D34585 on one side, with the present work and D34584 respectively on their other sides. The partial watermark ‘mlett’ on other sheets in the sequence discussed under Tate D23337 likely indicates the Devon papermaker Edward Norish Tremlett, operating at various mills around Exeter between 1831 and 1856, in partnership with Dewdney between 1831 and 1833, and Charles Harris between 1833 and 1851.1

Matthew Imms
August 2016

1
See ‘Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History; 7: The Devon paper trades: a biographical dictionary: Exeter’, Exeter Working Papers in Book History, accessed 4 May 2016, http://bookhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/devon-paper-trades-exeter.html.

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