Joseph Mallord William Turner

Hulks on the River Medway, Possibly at Chatham


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCIX 77

Catalogue entry

The drawings on this page describe hulks on the River Medway, as identified by Finberg.1 Presumably this location is suggested in light of the topographic focus of the present sketchbook, since the brief forms of harbour buildings in the background are largely ambiguous. The large number of substantial vessels suggests more specifically that Turner might have encountered the scene around the dockyard at Chatham. A tall spiked shape in the distance at left might be the masts of the dredger observed at close quarters in Turner’s drawing on the facing page, folio 76 verso (D17482).
A group of sweeping, curved lines towards the top of the sheet, at centre, describes ambiguous intentions. The gestural swathe might connote fire, or smoke, or some other matter capable of drifting in this way.
For a comprehensive list of the studies in this book which take Chatham as their subject, see the entry for folio 22 recto (D17402).

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg 1909, I, p.609.

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