Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of Shipping and the Sky at Sea


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 187 × 114 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CC 91

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned to the left are four drawings of the sea, skies and shipping. The top sketch shows two or three vessels, silhouetted against the horizon with ‘grey’ clouds in a ‘Blue’ sky with a small ‘yellow’ sun at the top left that is reflected in the water below; rays of light spread diagonally across the sketch, breaking through the gaps in the clouds at the right. The second sketch shows two vessels closer up with a sky layered with clouds that are closer to the horizon. Extensive colour notes refer to a ‘yellowish’ sky, and to ‘Gray’ and ‘Red orange clouds’. The third sketch brings us much closer to the shipping and the character of the clouds has changed again; now a blanket of ‘Grey c[loud] with gold’ highlights drawn up from the horizon where a boat is at anchor with its sails down. There is another boat in full sail at the left. In the final sketch, at the bottom of the page, there are two boats at the right, with a thick streak of cloud sitting just above the horizon, and with the orb of the sun half obscured as it descends.
These sketches belong to a series of sea and sky studies scattered throughout the sketchbook and made during Turner’s journeys to and from Edinburgh (see folio 3; D17512).

Thomas Ardill
August 2008

Read full Catalogue entry


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