Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for Unidentified Vignettes: Cod on the Beach


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 200 × 152 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 4

Catalogue entry

The subject of this vignette combines landscape elements with a carefully composed still-life. In the foreground a catch of cod and red snapper lies next to a mooring ring. In the distance, small figures standing on a quay watch a group of fishing boats tossed about by a turbulent sea. The illustration belongs to a group of four finished designs that Turner produced for an unidentified project (see also Tate D27520; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 3, Tate D25465; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 342 and Tate D25466; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 343). The other designs retain a similar format and depict lobsters and crabs, sprats, plaice, and mackerel respectively. None of the watercolours was ever engraved for publication. For a detailed discussion of the group see Tate D27520; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 3.
James Hamilton has observed the close relationship between the cod in this drawing and the sea monsters that appear in a later oil painting, Sunrise with Sea-Monsters 1845 (Tate, N01990).1
Hamilton 2003, p.110; Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, no.473.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘120| a’ centre right-hand edge and ‘CCLXXX’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 4’ lower left

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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