Joseph Mallord William Turner

Group of Fishermen and Fish Wives ?at Calais


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 78 × 118 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXVI 272

Catalogue entry

Sketching from a point on the shore or harbour, here Turner records a group of fishermen and fishwives going about their daily activities. A similar sketch, drawn in the same sitting, is shown on Tate D19922; Turner Bequest CCXVI 186. The women are seated, possibly preparing the morning’s catch for sale, while the men stand together before some boats moored at right. There are no visible topographical features to determine where exactly Turner sketches. It seems likely that the artist is in northern France, perhaps at Calais, given the similarities between this sketch and others taken at and around Calais harbour and the beach (see Tate D04196, D04197, D20077, D28477–D28478, D24907, D24949; Turner Bequest LXXI 4, 5, CCXVI 268a, CCLX 41–42, CCLX 71, 113). Turner arrived there on 9 September 1824 and returned five days later on the 14th, the eve of his departure back to England.
With the sketchbook turned in accordance with the foliation, Turner has also jotted two figures carrying the same large objects, perhaps fishing equipment, on their backs.
This leaf was originally separated from the Rivers Meuse and Moselle sketchbook until Finberg identified it as belonging to the 1824 tour.1 It was then rebound into the book as a verso; the recto is blank apart from Finberg’s Turner Bequest stamp.
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.681.
Inscribed in pencil ‘272a’ bottom right.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2014

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