Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sailing Boats near a Buoy: ?Study for ‘The Wreck Buoy’

1845

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 86 x 111 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D35684
Turner Bequest CCCLXI 108 a

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, a sailing boat is shown off the coast, approaching a shape in the left foreground which is presumably the ‘Wreck Buoy’ noted by Turner. John Gage suggested Turner’s full inscription might have been the germ of the idea of repainting a dark seascape of about 1807 with newly mysterious luminosity1 and exhibiting it as The Wreck Buoy in 1849 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool).2 The reworked version includes a buoy and boat similarly juxtaposed, with other shipping introduced beyond.
As noted in the sketchbook’s Introduction, adjacent pages include other drawings and notes of effects of light over the sea, likely made at Margate.
1
See Gage 1969, pp.232–3, as noted in Butlin and Joll 1984, p.273, and Milner 1990, p.76.
2
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.272–3 no.428, pl.33 (colour).
Technical notes:
There is extensive brown staining, possibly indicating water damage in the 1928 Tate flood.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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