Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Felucca


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 197 × 267 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXVIII U

Catalogue entry

(see main catalogue entry)
The title of this design for the unpublished Liber Studiorum plate refers to the type of boat seen in the distance to the right, with lateen sails (suspended from a yard at an angle from the mast) characteristic of the Mediterranean. Turner sketched numerous types of vessels with such sails on his first tour of Italy in 1819; there are examples in several sketchbooks: Venice to Ancona (Tate D14501, D14620; Turner Bequest CLXXVI 7a, 68a), Gandolfo to Naples (Tate D15631; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 38a), Pompeii, Amalfi, &c. (Tate D15822, D15823; Turner Bequest CLXXXV 46a, 47) and Naples, Paestum and Rome (Tate D15944, D15949; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 19, CLXXXVI 20 a); and a detailed study of a three-masted rig in the St Peter’s sketchbook (Tate D16255; Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII 55). The conjunction and details of the boats on the left may have developed from slight sketches in the Naples, Paestum and Rome book (Tate D15908; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 1). There are also various sketches of Mediterranean coastal towers and lighthouses, such as those in the Gandolfo to Naples sketchbook (Tate D15688; Turner Bequest CLXXXIV 65) and the Naples, Paestum and Rome book (Tate D15919; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 7)
As Gillian Forrester notes,1 the fluid technique and some use of colours beyond the overall ‘sepia’ tones of earlier Liber designs mark a transitional style moving towards the stormy chiaroscuro effects of the ‘Little Liber’ mezzotints of the mid-1820s (see general Liber introduction). Various points of comparison may be made with the Ports of England watercolours of about the same date: for example, the figures in the open boat recall those in Portsmouth (Tate D18152; Turner Bequest CCVIII S),2 while the overall composition has similarities to Deal (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool).3
The mezzotint engraving (without preliminary etching) usually attributed to Henry Dawe, was among the unpublished Liber Studiorum prints (Rawlinson/Finberg nos.72–91;4 see also Tate D08170–D08174, D08176–D08178, D25451; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 328, Vaughan Bequest CXVIII P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X; and Tate N02782, N03631). Tate does not hold any impressions.
Forrester 1996, p.146.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.387 no.756, reproduced.
Ibid., p.388 no.758, reproduced.
W[illiam] G[eorge] Rawlinson, Turner’s Liber Studiorum, A Description and a Catalogue, London 1878, pp.144–69; 1906, pp.169–96; Finberg 1924, pp.287–365.
Hardie 1938, pp.62–3 no.27, reproduced p.[99] pl.X.

Matthew Imms
May 2006

Joyce Townsend, circa 1995, Tate conservation files, with slide of detail.
Forrester 1996, p.146.
See A.J. Finberg, ‘Turner’s Newly Identified Yorkshire Sketch-book’, Connoisseur, vol.46, October 1935, pp.185–7; Alexander J. Finberg, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Second Edition, Revised, with a Supplement, by Hilda F. Finberg, revised ed., Oxford 1961, pp.286–7.
Forrester 1996, p.152.

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop