Joseph Mallord William Turner

The New Moon; or, ‘I’ve lost My Boat, You shan’t have Your Hoop’

exhibited 1840

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on mahogany
Support: 654 × 813 mm
frame: 960 × 1109 × 105 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

This is a view of the Kent coast at Margate, where Turner often stayed in his later years. Turner had, since the 1820s, been exploring the possibilities of suggesting a wider expanse of landscape through the inclusion of both setting sun and rising moon.

This delicately coloured seascape was partly painted while already in its frame. Turner worked on the picture rapidly, perhaps developing a sketch. Contemporary critics made fun of Turner’s subtitle, but the little episode shows his understanding and fondness of children.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

386. [N00526] The New Moon; or, ‘I've lost My Boat, You shan't have Your Hoop’ Exh. 1840


Mahogany, 25 3/4 × 32 (65·5 × 81·5)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (90, ‘The New Moon’ 4'3" (sic) × 2'3 1/2"); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1910.

Exh. R.A. 1840 (243); Paris 1953 (83, pl. 36).

Lit. Thornbury 1862, i, p. 346; 1877, p. 465; Bell 1901, p. 140 no. 222; Armstrong 1902, p. 225; Davies 1946, p. 187; Finberg 1961, pp. 379, 505 no. 534; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, p. 48; Reynolds 1969, p. 179.

A rebate along the right-hand edge shows that the picture was partly painted in its frame. The paint was quickly and thickly applied in places, resulting in a very pronounced craquelure.

The picture came in for its fair share of the abuse or occasional qualified praise earned by Turner's 1840 exhibits. For the ever-hostile Blackwood's Magazine, September 1840, ‘The painting does not belie the silliness of the title ... What can the moon have to do with the loss of a hoop and a boat? Who would have imagined this to be moonlight? It is far below even “moonshine”. There is a red child squalling lustily. The moral is, that spoiled children of all ages do very silly things.’ The Times for 6 May dismissed the sub-title as ‘unintelligible periphrasis’, after beginning, ‘This new moon has the merit of being perfectly novel. It resembles no moon that has ever yet illumined the heavens. The substance appears to be putty.’ Only the Spectator for 16 May conceded that the picture had ‘a semblance to nature when viewed from the middle of the room’.

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984


  • Tate Etc

    MicroTate 22

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