Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Shipping and a View of Leith


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook inverted Turner has used this final page to study sailing boats. At the top right a row of three drawings probably show the same single-masted vessel these times. Two larger drawings beneath these are both views of a two or three-masted, square-rigged vessel, with dark shapes on the deck towards its stern representing some of its crew. At the left is another single-masted vessel at sail.
With the sketchbook turned to the right from its usual orientation are several more sketches of dark boats silhouetted against the sky. The sketches are labelled Leith, and a dark box-shape on one of them may be the Martello tower near the old West Pier (see folio 53 verso; D17598). In the bottom sketch the boat seems to have been pushed up on the shore, judging by the figures standing around it. Perhaps this is a fishing boat rather than one of the many vessels of or visiting the royal squadron that Turner depicted throughout this sketchbook (see King’s Visit to Edinburgh 1822 sketchbook Introduction).
The inscription, ‘2’, in one corner of the page may have been added when the page was removed from or replaced in the sketchbook by John Ruskin, A.J. Finberg or some other custodian.

Thomas Ardill
September 2008

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