Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for a Sea Piece, with Small Boats in the Foreground and a Larger Ship in the Right Distance


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk on paper
Support: 275 × 271 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXI 104

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the subject is continued on folio 54 recto opposite (D05007; Turner Bequest LXXXI 105). It is probably, as Finberg suggested,1 a study for the painting Dutch Boats in a Gale: Fishermen Endeavouring to Put their Fish on Board (‘The Bridgewater Seapiece’), exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1801 (private collection, on loan to the National Gallery, London).2 Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll question the connection with that picture,3 but the position of this sketch in a sequence of similar designs, including folios 54 verso–55 recto and 55 verso–56 recto (D05008–D05011; Turner Bequest LXXXI 106–107, 108–109), which are undoubtedly related to it, seems to leave the matter in little doubt; for other studies in this sketchbook, see under D05008.
See Finberg 1909, I, p.216.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.12–13 no.14, pl.11 (colour).
Ibid., p.12.
Technical notes:
The upper half of the leaf (the lower as foliated) was evidently already missing when Turner made this drawing, as noted under the recto (D05005; Turner Bequest LXXXI 103), and the distant ship is confined to the surviving portion.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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