Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Sun Rising over Water


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 334 × 472 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 64

Catalogue entry

The central sun here, reserved as a blank disk of white paper, appears to be low over water, probably the sea with what may be a stretch of wet beach in the foreground. Compare Tate D25258 and D25332 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 136, 210) in particular, and for other ‘colour beginnings’ focusing on a centrally placed sun, see the Introduction to this subsection.1 Compare also the effect of the low sun in a blaze of yellow in the topographical watercolour study The Roman Campagna from Monte Testaccio, Sunset from the 1819 Naples, Rome C Studies sketchbook (Tate D16131; Turner Bequest CLXXXVII 43).2
Andrew Wilton has compared the effect with that in Margate from the Sea, Whiting Fishing of 1822 (private collection),3 engraved in 1825 as Sun-Rise. Whiting Fishing at Margate for Turner’s Marine Views (Tate impression: T06655), and dated this work to about 1825 in the context of the ‘Little Liber’ series landscape studies (see ‘Little Liber c.1823–6’ in the present catalogue);4 Ian Warrell concurred, placing it a little later in the 1820s among similar works.5
See also Warrell 1991, p.40, and Shanes 1997, p.102.
Warrell 2012, p.31 (colour), opposite the present work.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.358 no.507.
See Wilton 1983, p.227.
See Warrell 1991, p.40.
Technical notes:
Paper conservator Peter Bower has identified the sheet as a watercolour paper made at the Bally, Ellen & Steart Mill, at the De Montalt Mill, Bath, Somerset, and observes that it is unusually lightweight in terms of other sheets Turner used by that maker. The full stops in the watermark differ from their customary commas, suggesting a different mould, while the position of the mark indicates the full size of the sheet had been Royal (averaging 610 x 483 mm; 24 x 19 inches) or Super Royal (686 x 483 mm; 27 x 19 inches) rather than the Imperial (559 x 762 mm; 22 x 30 inches) Bally, Ellen & Steart sheets Turner habitually used.1
See Bower 1999, p.86.
Blank; not available for inspection at time of writing.

Matthew Imms
March 2016

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