Joseph Mallord William Turner

The ‘Gomer’ Arriving in Portsmouth Harbour, Attended by Boats


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 74 × 116 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXII 11

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, this slight drawing seems to show the starboard side the large hybrid sail-steamship Gomer, which carried Louis-Philippe, King of the French, into Portsmouth Harbour on 8 October 1844. It was characterised by its high paddle wheel housing amidships, which appears to be the feature towards the right here. The diagonal marks at the centre may be the steps by which the king descended as shown in the detailed 1846 painting Débarquement de Louis-Philippe à Portsmouth, le 8 octobre 1844 by Eugène Isabey (1803–1886; Château de Versailles).
Off what seems to be the stern to the left are probably small boats of the sort shown by Isabey. Compare folios 6 verso, 17 verso–18 recto and 18 verso (D35695, D35716–D35718) and see under folio 1 verso (D35686). See also the watercolour study Tate D35959 (Turner Bequest CCCLXIV 116). There are many other rapid drawings in this book relating to Louis-Philippe’s arrival, as discussed in the Introductions to the sketchbook and the overall section.
The blank recto is inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘11’ and stamped in black ‘CCCLXII – 11’ at the bottom right. For numerous instances of blank, unaccessioned rectos in this sketchbook, see the technical notes in the Introduction.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like