Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping, Perhaps at Cowes


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, pen and ink and graphite on paper
Support: 138 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLX 31

Catalogue entry

This is among dozens of blue paper studies presumably made in connection with the Cowes Regatta events in the late summer of 1827; see the Introduction to this subsection for other generic harbour and coastal scenes. Although exhibited in the nineteenth century as an English subject, like several others in the present subsection this drawing was categorised in Finberg’s 1909 inventory in one of the sections of works on blue paper ‘mostly connected with “French Rivers”’.1 There are no landmarks, but the setting may be the mouth of the River Medina and the Solent off Cowes. A blue paper Study of Boats in the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester,2 is particularly comparable among similar works in other collections, as discussed in the Introduction.
The calm mood here is reminiscent of beach subjects from rather earlier in Turner’s career such as Sun Rising through Vapour; Fishermen Cleaning and Selling their Fish, exhibited in 1807 (National Gallery, London)3 and Fishmarket on the Sands – Hastings?, exhibited in 1810 (Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City).4 Compare also Tate D24897 (Turner Bequest CCLX 61).
In 2005, as one of the participants in Tate Britain’s Drawing from Turner project and exhibition, the painter Anthony Whishaw (born 1930) used this work as the basis of four related pencil studies made from different orientations ‘to elicit the purely visual aspect’ of Turner’s ‘marks’.5 Paul Neicho, a fine art graduate working at Tate Britain, and Rachel Sopher, then studying at Chelsea College of Art and Design, also made interpretations.6
See Finberg 1909, II, pp.806–13, CCLX, ‘Pencil and ink on blue paper: mostly connected with “French Rivers” series’, c.1830; see also Warrell 1991, p.65 and Warrell 1999, pp.30, 253 note 84, linking this sheet to the Isle of Wight.
Craig Hartley, Turner Watercolours in the Whitworth Art Gallery, exhibition catalogue, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester 1984, reproduced p.49, p.50 no.40.
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).
Ibid., pp.75–6 no.105, pl.112.
See Wilton 2007, p.7.
Technical notes:
The sheet is somewhat darkened and browned from exposure.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘44a’ towards top right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLX – 31’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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