Joseph Mallord William Turner

Folkestone Harbour


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 230 × 328 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVI 9

Catalogue entry

The sombre profile of a Folkestone harbour breakwater is represented with two broad continuous brushstrokes of grey wash. The lower of the two brushstrokes has been layered onto the higher, leaving it a darker more intense grey. Some of the peripheral edges of the breakwater are rendered with sharp contour in black, offering a striking contrast to the gentle tonal gradations and modulations found in the rest of the work. The sky and sea are formed with translucent washes of grey and blue which disperse into pale yellow-orange at the top and in the foreground. Regarding the formal aspects of this watercolour Michael Bockemühl writes: ‘The solidity of the fortifications and the expanse of the atmosphere are communicated directly through the intensity of the outlined grey together with the completely indefinite areas of colour, the latter thereby determining the atmosphere’.1
3 Bockemühl, trans. Claridge 1993, p.79.
Technical notes:
Some of the watercolour continues onto the opposite page.

Alice Rylance-Watson
February 2013

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