Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for a Sea-Piece, Related to ‘Entrance of the Meuse’


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Support: 111 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLIII 89 a

Catalogue entry

This sketch is one of three in this sketchbook (see also D12047, D12098; Turner Bequest CLIII 41, 90a) in which Turner rehearses ideas for a sea-piece. The concept of small boats in the foreground attending a larger ship heeling over in the middle distance materialised in the large painting Entrance of the Meuse: Orange-Merchant on the Bar, Going to Pieces; Brill Church Bearing S.E. by S., Masensluys E. by S. (Tate N00501)1 exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1819. In general terms the present sketch approaches the final composition quite closely. Turner appears to have turned the part-completed book around, and made this drawing and that on the adjacent page working from the back. The image is inverted in relation to the main numbered sequence of subjects in the book.
See notes to D12047 for the possibility that Turner began planning this subject at Farnley Hall in the autumn of 1818, perhaps as a companion to his Dutch river subject, Dort, or Dordrecht, the Dort Packet-Boat from Rotterdam Becalmed (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut),2 exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1818, acquired by Walter Fawkes and newly installed over the chimneypiece in the drawing room at Farnley.3 Entrance to the Meuse is a similar size to the Dort, but in the event the second picture remained with Turner. One or other of these pictures could be the subject of a note about framing inside the front cover of the present sketchbook (D40716).
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.105–6 no.139 (pl.143).
Ibid., pp.102–4 no.137 (pl.140).
See the watercolour, Drawing Room at Farnley Hall (private collection); Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.368 no.592.

David Hill
June 2009

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