Joseph Mallord William Turner

Landscape Studies at Sunset or Sunrise


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 190 × 111 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

Finberg described the drawings here and those inside the back cover (D40983) as ‘various slight pencil sketches of river scenery, &c.’,1 though there appears to be no direct indication of a river in the two sketches, separated by horizontal pencil lines, which occupy the upper half of this paste-down, turned vertically. There is a vertical series of annotated sky studies on folio 1 recto opposite (D17773), so these two ‘below’ them are likely to be part of the same sequence.
The upper view, taking up about a third of the page, shows a sky with a few clouds, with trees and perhaps buildings on the horizon. There are colour notes of ‘Pink’, ‘Orange [...]’ and ‘orp’ for orpiment, a deep yellow, indicating a sky at sunset or sunrise. To the left may be ‘[?Spring Corn]’, with notes below which appear to relate to the foreground: ‘[?P]’ and, reading very tentatively, ‘[... ?high turn out Tu... with ?Sto... | and gown]’. The latter might indicate some ceremonial occasion. The second sketch focuses on the hatched silhouette of a castle or church tower, possibly among trees, with the sun immediately to its right, emitting rays.
There are other sky and cloud studies on folios 1 recto opposite, 2 recto, 18 verso, 26 recto, 33 recto and verso, 36 verso, 39 verso, 41 verso and inside the back cover (D17773, D17775, D17796, D17805, D17816, D17817, D17824, D17829, D17833, D40983).
At the bottom left are calculations which Turner made with the page held horizontally. There being twenty shillings to a pound, the initial sum appears to be financial, and the whole is a typically ad hoc note of as yet undetermined significance:
   94,  10
   17    17
112       7    –     135 -
  56 -                    56
         [?10 for] 79 for 8
The remaining quadrant of the page is occupied by the Turner Bequest executors’ ink endorsement, again inscribed with the page horizontal. The main inscription is all in the hand of Charles Turner: ‘No 322 Contains 25 | Leaves in Pencil & Chalk | C Turner’. Below are the respective pencil initials, ‘JPK’ and ‘C.L.E.’, of John Prescott Knight and Charles Lock Eastlake.

Matthew Imms
November 2014

Finberg 1909, I, p.618.

Read full Catalogue entry

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