Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping on a Calm Sea


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Ink and graphite on paper
Support: 135 × 210 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXIX 116

Catalogue entry

The pencil additions and suggestions in the foreground, apparently by another hand (the shore, quay and figures), seem to anticipate the composition of the 1807 painting Sun Rising through Vapour; Fishermen Cleaning and Selling Fish (National Gallery, London).1 They transform the horizontal composition by the introduction of a dock or jetty at the right, a device that Turner adopted for that painting and for his two watercolour views of Scarborough, of 1809 (Wallace Collection, London)2 and 1811 (Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide).3.
The writing may perhaps be Turner’s, but the additions to the drawing in pencil do not look at all like his hand, especially the odd stunted tree-forms that apparently stand for human figures. There seems to be no reason why Turner, if he added these alterations himself, should not have made them in ink. For another intervention in a different hand see the 1801 Helmsley sketchbook (Tate D02466; Turner Bequest LIII 3a).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.53–4 no.69, pl.79 (colour).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.360 no.527, reproduced.
Ibid., no.528, pl.122 (colour).
Blank; inscribed in pencil in the same hand as that on the verso of folio 114 (D04132; Turner Bequest LXIX 115) ‘142’ and by John Ruskin in red ink ‘1068’.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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