Joseph Mallord William Turner

Rain Clouds Approaching over a Landscape


On loan

ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum (Aarhus, Denmark): Turner Watercolours: Sun is God

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 182 × 226 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 337

Display caption

This colour study is typical of the hundreds of experimental sketches
that Turner habitually made as part of
his process of painting in watercolour. He used them to test how his paper reacted to his colours, to lay out compositions, and to recreate atmospheric effects. Many were produced in batches, with Turner moving from sheet to sheet as
if he was on a production line.


Turner had always been greatly
interested in the sky but, like his contemporary John Constable, his
interest in making cloud and sky
studies seems to have been especially heightened in the years around 1820.


Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

The low, billowing cumulonimbus-type cloud formations here are the most extensively and carefully worked among the examples in the present subsection, while embryonic landscape forms are evoked through the varied application of broad brushstrokes. Tate D25453 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 330), now badly faded, may originally have had something of the same effect.
There is a presumably fortuitous echo after more than two decades of the dramatic skies of Turner’s early seascapes in oil, such as Dutch Boats in a Gale: Fishermen Endeavouring to Put their Fish on Board (‘The Bridgewater Sea Piece’), exhibited in 1801 (private collection, on loan to the National Gallery, London),1 with its contrasting narrow strip of sunlit horizon.
There are unrelated rough architectural elevations in pencil on the verso (D41486; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 337v).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.12–13 no.14, pl.11 (colour).
Technical notes:
There appears to be gouache in heaviest clouds? Fingerprint top right

Matthew Imms
March 2016

Read full Catalogue entry


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