Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Bass Rock


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 99 × 159 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXV 13

Catalogue entry

This is another drawing of the Bass Rock, depicted on the previous three pages and on the following page of this sketchbook (folios 11–12 verso and 13 verso; D13342–D13344, D13346; CLXV 11a–12a, 13a). Over this series Turner’s rendering of the rock develops from a rough outline to the definite shape depicted here with geological details and grass on the top. Comparing the sketches offers an insight into the process not only of the artist’s sketching, but of his looking. He sees the general shape of the subject, which he quickly notes, before refining his knowledge of its appearance, and seeking its specifics.
The number ‘9’ has been inscribed near the top of the rock. This may represent a particular colour of tone according the artist’s own system.
Turner made dozens of sketches of the Bass Rock in 1818 and 1822, all contributing towards the design of his watercolour, Bass Rock, circa 1824 (Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight).1

Thomas Ardill
October 2007

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.426 no.1069.

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