Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘Sheerness’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 170 × 244 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 266

Catalogue entry

This drawing is a colour study for Sheerness in the Ports of England series (Tate D18153; Turner Bequest CCVIII T). Turner depicts a more forbidding sky in this sketch than in the finished design, rendered in vigorous strokes of dark blue and grey wash. Shipping is marked out in light pencil, highlighted sparingly in grey wash to render a sense of tone.
The navy longboat flying its ensign dominates the composition. To the left of it is a cutter and to the right in the distance is either a collier brig or man-of-war. Although a relatively undeveloped sketch, there is a strong evocation of the elements in this drawing: the skies responding to the force and velocity of the wind, the swell and churn of the sea.
The drawing was taken on the same large sheet as the colour study for Ramsgate (D25422; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 299).
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram and ‘CCLXIII 266’ at bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII | 266’ and ‘D25389’ at bottom right; and inscribed in pencil ‘41’ at centre.

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


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