Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figures on the Sands

c.1822–8

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 190 × 231 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25370
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 248

Catalogue entry

The composition of this work recalls Turner’s Brighthelmstone, a highly finished pencil and watercolour drawing of about 1796 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).1 This may be a later sketch of the same subject, possibly produced as a preparatory work for a design in the East Coast of England, the Ports of England, or the Southern Coast of England engraving series.2
The handling is loose and fluid: the slope of land in light brown wash merging into the blue-grey wash rendering the settlements beyond. The buildings atop this gradient are in negative, marked out by a few simple strokes of the brush on bare paper and crowned by an overcast sky. Figures are suggested on the beach in black wash, walking across the grey sands towards the grey-green sea.

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2013

1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.315, no.147.
2
Shanes 1997, p.94 Appendix I ‘Brighton’.

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