Joseph Mallord William Turner

Storm Clouds, Perhaps above a Beach


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 243 × 308 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 35

Display caption

Throughout his career Turner made endless quick notes based on his observations of the sky. Most of these were in pencil, but he often explored the progress of a particular effect through a series of watercolour studies, evidently moving rapidly from sheet to sheet in an attempt to capture the sense of a transitory impression.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

While less obviously coastal in their setting compared to some of the similar cloudscapes addressed in John Chu’s section of ‘Coastal Scenes and Shipping’ after 1827 elsewhere in this catalogue, this and the compositionally similar Tate D35875 (Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 36) may be beach scenes, with streaks of red here suggesting the approach of sunset.
Examples of such scenes, with strong horizons about half-way up the sheet and dated by common consent to the early 1840s, have been discussed by Amy Concannon, associating them with Turner’s customary stays overlooking the broad sweep of the sea at Margate in Kent; they include Tate D35397, D36302, D36309 and D36310 (Turner Bequest CCCLVII 11, CCCLXV 12, 19, 20).1 While most of the works in this subsection have been dated to between 1820 and 1840 (see the Introduction), this and D35875 are dated subsequently by association with other works as discussed.
See Amy Concannon, ‘Horizons: Sea and Sky’ in David Blayney Brown, Concannon and Sam Smiles (eds.), Late Turner: Painting Set Free, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2014, pp.204–5.
Blank; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCCLXIV – 35’ bottom right.
There are a few dark spots, possibly offset from another sheet.

Matthew Imms
March 2016

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