Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Arrival of Louis-Philippe: Boats Going Out to his Ship, the ‘Gomer’, in Portsmouth Harbour


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 235 × 309 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 114

Catalogue entry

Like the other works grouped here, this relates to the arrival of Louis-Philippe, King of the French, at Portsmouth Harbour on 8 October 1844, as discussed in the Introductions to this subsection and the overall section.1
The loosely washed-in background appears to combine the skyline of Portsmouth with vertical strokes for masts. In the foreground, below pencil lines indicating ‘choppy waters’,2 are the dark forms of at least two rowing boats and their crews. Turner’s inscription below has been read as ‘Going out to the Ship – sculls Rough’,3 sculls being oars. The last word is uncertain, but may rather be ‘Rowing R’ or a close variation, perhaps to note a red element in the crews’ clothing; ‘the ship’ is presumably the Gomer, the King’s large and distinctive hybrid sail-steamship, of which there is no obvious sign. Robert Upstone has suggested that this study shows in particular the Prince Consort and the Duke of Wellington approaching the ship’s moorings at Gosport.4 Compare Tate D35981 (Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 138), where it is surrounded by small boats.
See also Upstone 1993, p.52, Warrell 2013, p.9, and Smiles 2014, p.168.
Brown 1987, p.20.
See ibid., p.24, and Warrell 2015, p.202.
Upstone 1993, p.53.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘ccclxiv’ bottom right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCCLXIV – 114’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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