Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Uniform of a Royal Marine, and a Ship’s Guns


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 190 × 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCIX 36 a

Catalogue entry

As identified by Finberg, the drawings on this page describe several accessories to naval shipping; chiefly the uniform of a marine and views of the ship’s guns.1
The uniform is described to its full extent at left, from behind, with the page turned vertically. A battalion distinction, or company plume, is visible at the edge of the hat.2 Turner seems to repeat this motif at greater proximity immediately to the right, accompanied by inscriptions which pertain to the colours used. It seems likely that this particular uniform belongs to an officer of the Royal Marines, an identification based primarily on the white turnbacks evident along the coat tails of the jacket.3 The white breeches and blue cuffs are inscribed with colour notes by Turner. Two leather shoulder belts intersect across the back of the jacket, and a leather cartridge box appears to be fixed in this manner to the marine’s right hip. There are further drawings of naval uniforms in this sketchbook on folio 37 verso (D17426). See the entry for that page for more information.
At top right, a single rope, pulled tight and fixed to dead eyes at its leftmost end, marks the paper in isolation. Below this and to the left, is a darkly shaded sketch of an officer’s ‘cocked hat’.4 Lower still, Turner records two views of a ship’s gun. First, at centre, he observes the muzzle and chase protruding from an open gun port, which would presumably have been positioned within a row of identical ports along the hull of a warship. Beneath this is a second sketch, concerned only with what is concealed by the first. That is the rear part of the cannon with the first and second reinforce rings and the cascable, all fixed into position by a network of mounts and supports.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg 1909, I, p.608.
Nicholas Blake & Richard Lawrence, The Illustrated Companion to Nelson’s Navy, London 1999, p.81.
Finberg 1909, I, p.608.

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