Joseph Mallord William Turner

Four Designs for Vignettes; Also Two Sketches of Ships Sailing

c.1834

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 181 × 111 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D26150
Turner Bequest CCLXVIII 29

Catalogue entry

The four compositions boxed off at the top of this page continue the series of vignette designs on folio 28 verso (D26149). These, however, seem to have less ethereal subject matter than those on the previous page. The first, at the top left, may depict a boat at sea beneath a dark squally sky. The coast is depicted in the sketch to the right, with waves meeting the shore at the right and a similarly dark and threatening sky. A row of dots across the centre of the canvas suggest a pier or groyne. Triangular shapes appear in the two lower designs. At the bottom left are two of these shapes in the foreground of a body of water, with a boat at the left and the sun above. They may be waves, mountains, rocks or fire. The final composition, at the bottom right, depicts more of these flame-like triangular shapes. For more information on Turner’s vignette studies, see folio 28 verso.
With the sketchbook turned to the left, the spare space on the page has been used for two sketches of shipping. Both probably depict the same large boat with several sails, as well as a boat with a mast but no sails to the right. In the foreground at the left of both sketches is a scribbled shape that may be a large buoy. There is another study of shipping on folio 61 verso (D26214), and numerous sketches of the coast are scattered throughout this sketchbook.

Thomas Ardill
January 2011

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