Joseph Mallord William Turner

Groups of Vessels, Probably on the River Medway

c.1821

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 190 × 112 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17386
Turner Bequest CXCIX 13

Catalogue entry

With the page oriented vertically, here Turner describes two distinct groups of vessels, as identified by Finberg.1 Across the top third of the sheet, a diverse spectrum of boats spreads across the full width of the sheet. These range from small craft to broad, tall warships. At left and centre Turner shades specific hulls to distinguish them from the crowded cluster of silhouettes. At right, the jumble of maritime architecture transforms into bricks and mortar; harbour buildings take shape, with windows and angular roofs.
The second drawing on this page is dominated by a hulk. Generally brief in its description, the stern and bow are rendered with a degree of descriptive detail, and several gun ports are recorded along the hull at left. Light craft litter the water in the foreground, and a number of figures populate the example closest to centre. To the immediate left of the hulk, a long flag pole extends from one of these shallow boats. At left, and at greater distance from Turner, another large ship is visible on the horizon.
1
Finberg 1909, I, p.607.
Verso:
Blank

Maud Whatley
January 2016

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