Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sky Studies towards Sunset or Sunrise


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 190 × 111 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCIV 1

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, Turner has recorded in shallow bands a sequence of five changing aspects of a sky with clouds, either before dawn or sunset. They are annotated with notes on colour and relative tones. In the first he notes ‘Cd Darker than the sky’, also indicating the position of the ‘sun’, though whether behind cloud or still below the horizon at this stage is unclear. In the second he notes ‘Cd Lighter than sky’, ‘[?Cold]’ and ‘Pink’, with ‘B [?G]’, probably for blue and green, above; in the third, numbered ‘3’, he observes ‘[...] darker than sky | tho warm’, with a ‘Yellow ish’ area above clouds labelled ‘Purple’ twice. In study ‘4’ he merely notes a ‘Cold’ hue towards the top, while in ‘5’, above what may be wooded horizon, the sky is marked variously ‘Green’, ‘yellow [?Light]’, ‘Pink’ and ‘Orange’. Below the skyline is a note of ‘[?Vapours] Cold’, perhaps indicating mist or dew.
There are two further sketches inside the front cover opposite (D40982) which probably continue the sequence; the sun actually appears above the horizon in the second, perhaps indicating that the progression is towards dawn. Other sky studies are listed under D40982.

Matthew Imms
November 2014

Read full Catalogue entry


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