Joseph Mallord William Turner

Hulks on the River Medway at Rochester

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: 112 × 190 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17381
Turner Bequest CXCIX 10

Catalogue entry

As recognised by Finberg, here Turner studies hulks on the river Medway.1 The drawings are detailed and demonstrate an interest in the architectural qualities of the vessels and harbour, but also their compositional potential in relation to one another. Ian Warrell has identified this sketch2 as one of four in the present book upon which Turner based the watercolour Rochester, on the River Medway of 1822 (Tate D18156; Turner Bequest CCVIII W).3 The watercolour was engraved by Thomas Lupton and published in 1824 (Tate impressions T06370, T04796–T04798). The additional studies in Warrell’s group that contributed to this work can be found on folios 18 recto, 18 verso, and 19 recto (D17394–D17396). Warrell notes that although some of these preparatory sketches stretch to 380 mm wide, the watercolour contracts the view into a much smaller space, measuring some 200 mm.4
The hulk at far right is not contained on this sheet alone. In order to accommodate the stern, Turner completes this vessel on the rightmost edge of folio 11 recto (D17382). In light of restricted space, he appears to have slid the present page towards the left, revealing a portion of the blank sheet beneath.
1
Finberg 1909, I, p.607.
2
Warrell 1991, p.31.
3
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.385 no.735, reproduced.
4
Warrell 1991, p.31.
Technical notes:
There is an elliptical flaw in the paper at the gutter on the far left, towards the top, possibly where a tear has been bonded with glue.
Verso:
Blank

Maud Whatley
January 2016

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