Joseph Mallord William Turner

Folkestone, with Harbour Railway Viaduct


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 230 × 328 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVI 13

Catalogue entry

As with folios 10 and 11 (D36371, D35372), Folkestone Harbour railway viaduct and track occupies the central register of this pencil and watercolour drawing. Turner’s rough pencil notations suggest the very basic components of the composition: the central transecting line of the railway track, a towered building and perhaps a windmill on the distant headland. The red pigment used for the viaduct and track has been highlighted with purple wash, these colours dispersing and bleeding into one another at the point at which the viaduct meets the gradient of the land towards the left. The vivid amorphous streak produced by this merging of watercolour contrasts opportunely with the sparsely developed area to the left of the sheet which has been roughly filled in with vigorous, dry-brush hatches of yellow and purple pigment. Towards the bottom right is an area of translucent red wash interrupted by a sequence of scalloped shapes. These were probably caused by Turner using his fingertips to suggest some sort of foreground incident, or indeed purely for the aesthetic effect.

Alice Rylance-Watson
February 2013

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