Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping in a Storm


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 139 × 228 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXXII 5

Display caption

Unfortunately, this sheet was badly damaged by being exposed to the light over a long period during the late nineteenth century. However, it is still possible to appreciate the scene of marine peril that Turner has conjured up. The flash of lightning on the left draws attention to the plight of two boats, while the distant glow of more tranquil moonlight serves only to heighten the present dangers of those in the storm.

Gallery label, September 1995

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Catalogue entry

This colour sketch of shipping caught in a storm is one of several in this volume. For more information, see the sketchbook introduction.
Technical notes:
Art historian A.J. Finberg’s 1909 inventory of the Turner Bequest notes that this piece was removed for exhibition at the National Gallery in the nineteenth century with the number ‘161c’ and subsequently reincorporated into the sketchbook in its original position.1 Darker margins around the edge of the leaf indicate prolonged exposure to light.
A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.II, p.908. Unusually, the work is not recorded in John Ruskin’s list of these exhibits; see E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn eds., Library Edition: The Works of John Ruskin: Volume XIII: Turner: The Harbours of England; Catalogues and Notes, London 1904, p.637.
Inscribed in black ink with the note ‘cclxxxii.5’

John Chu
March 2015

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