Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Margate: Jarvis’s Landing Place, with Heavy Cloud and a Distant Sail


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and graphite on paper
Support: 141 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXLI 427

Catalogue entry

The main view appears to be a loose depiction of a steamer at the end of Jarvis’s Landing Place, looking north from the Great Beach at Margate. Beneath billowing clouds, a single sail is picked out in white chalk, caught in sunlight towards the horizon. There is a smaller cloud study at the bottom left, framed by pencil lines. The incident in the main drawing presumably prompted Turner to write ‘Rysdael’ below, perhaps recalling the similar effect of a bright sail in the painting Port Ruysdael, exhibited in 1827 (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven), but not sold until March 1844;1 its title being an invented place name in homage to the seventeenth-century Dutch sea painter Jacob van Ruisdael.2
Secondary to another likely Margate view, a small sketch on the verso of the present sheet (Tate D34161; Turner Bequest CCCXLI 427v) appears associable with events in February 1844, when Turner also happened to be in correspondence about Fishing Boats Bringing a Disabled Ship into Port Ruysdael, a painting seemingly then in progress and exhibited in the course of that year (Tate N00536).3 There, the sails are dark against an overcast sky, although there is still a burst of light illuminating the waves near the centre.
Fred Bachrach has suggested the present work is ‘a faint sketch of a [Ruisdael] landscape at Dresden in 1836 [sic]’4 without further comment, but the reference is unclear; along with other Old Master works, Turner had drawn Ruisdael’s woodland Hunt in the Dresden Picture Gallery on his 1835 tour, in the Copenhagen to Dresden sketchbook (Tate D31030; Turner Bequest CCCVII 6).
For more on the likely Margate setting, see the Introduction to this subsection.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.146–7 no.237, pl.242
See Bachrach 2001, pp.273–4.
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.256 no.408, pl.413.
Bachrach 2001, p.274.
Technical notes:
Turner’s use of this sheet of buff paper is unusual among the Margate views grouped here, although several others are on blue paper. Compare one other sheet of similar size and colour (Tate D29014; Turner Bequest CCXCII 63).

Matthew Imms
August 2016

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