Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping in Portsmouth Harbour, Probably Including the ‘Gomer’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 116 × 74 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXII 1 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, there are two studies here. At the top is a sailing vessel along with the hull of what appears to be a large warship, distinguished by its lines of gunports; its lack of rigging may be owing simply to the artist’s haste or an indication that it is a dismasted hulk.
Below is a slightly more elaborate study of the starboard side of a hybrid sail-steamship. As Ian Warrell has noted, this may be the Gomer, which carried Louis-Philippe, King of the French, into Portsmouth Harbour on 8 October 1844, although ‘Turner includes four masts, with a short one between the foremast and the steam funnel. This would be incorrect for the Gomer, but perhaps stems from the confused bustle of the occasion, when the steamer was surrounded by so many other craft.’1 The Gomer is also shown on folios 10 verso, 17 verso–18 recto and 18 verso (D35702, D35716–D35718) and perhaps folios 6 verso, 11 verso and 23 verso (D35695, D35704, D35727).
There are many other rapid sketches in this book relating to Louis-Philippe’s arrival, as discussed in the Introductions to the book and the overall section.
Warrell 2013, p.10.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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