Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Sunset over the Sea, Perhaps at Margate


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 171 × 154 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCXLIII 36 a

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Gallery label, April 2005

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Catalogue entry

In chronological sequence down the sheet, there are at least three successive, typically summary studies of the sun approaching the horizon over the sea, with scrawled notes which may include a date. The viewpoint, as with other rapid sketches on similar sheets in this subsection, was perhaps the Great Beach at Margate.
In the ‘Coastal Scenes and Shipping c.1820–45’ section of this catalogue, John Chu has addressed a number of figure and shipping studies with little if anything by way of topographical context (Tate D34780, D34782, D34784, D34786–D34790; Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 322v, 323, 323v) on similarly folded pieces of the same paper (see the technical notes concerning Tate D34337–D34341 below). It is possible that all these sheets were folded together directly, or were at least prepared at the same time, along with Tate D34493–D34495 and the single sheet D34582–D34585 (Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 132, 133, 134, 190, 190v, 191, 191v) in the present subsection, amounting to eight sheets in all.
Technical notes:
The partial watermark ‘mlett’ likely indicates the Devon papermaker Edward Norish Tremlett, operating at various mills around Exeter between 1831 and 1856, in partnership with Dewdney between 1831 and 1833, and Charles Harris between 1833 and 1851.1
Finberg somewhat misleadingly described Tate D34337–D34341 (Turner Bequest CCCXLIII 36a–e) as ‘Five sheets from a sketch book ... on blue paper’.2 In fact they are on two matching bifolio unstitched sheets of white paper, presumably once folded within one another, with notches at the head and foot of the fold. D34341 (e) and the present work (a) are on the left and right of one face (with the horizontal dimension given above encompassing them both), with D34338 (b) on the back this one; D34339 (c) is on the right-hand side of one face of the second sheet, the left-hand side having been largely torn away, with D34340 (d) on its verso.

Matthew Imms
August 2016

See ‘Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History; 7: The Devon paper trades: a biographical dictionary: Exeter’, Exeter Working Papers in Book History, accessed 4 May 2016,
Finberg 1909, II, p.1108.

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