Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘The Landing of Columbus’, Rogers’s ‘Poems’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 186 × 256 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 194

Catalogue entry

This is a preliminary study for the finished watercolour, The Landing of Columbus, one of seven vignette illustrations which Turner designed for ‘The Voyage of Columbus’, the final work in Rogers’s Poems (see Tate D27708; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 191). Turner produced three preparatory sketches related to The Landing of Columbus, of which this is the most detailed and the most closely related to the final design. Like the finished composition the study depicts Columbus and his crew embarking in a procession from their ship, to be met by a throng of Native Americans. Turner has represented the onlookers on the shore in loose washes of golden and red watercolour. The group extends in a curve through to the immediate right-hand foreground. Adele Holcomb has suggested that Rogers may have felt that the casual poses of the scantily clad women in this version detracted from the dignity of the moment.1 Consequently, in the finished vignette, Turner reduced the figural content and painted a view of the water’s edge in their place. This shifts the central focus of the scene away from the Native American population and onto the disembarking European travellers.
Turner made two additional preparatory studies for this vignette (see Tate D27529; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 12 and Tate D27616; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 99).
Holcomb 1966, p.95.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘NG’ across top and ‘26 [7 superimposed] | c’ centre. There is also a wash of yellow watercolour bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 194’ centre

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Read full Catalogue entry

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