Joseph Mallord William Turner

The White and Gold Room (with Van Dyck Portraits)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 134 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXLIV 14

Technique and condition

This work by Turner is a gouache and watercolour sketch on medium weight, blue wove paper. Titled The White and Gold Room this work is quite a detailed sketch that may, unlike many of Turner's sketches be a finished piece.

There are seemingly random marks and shapes that form what essentially is quite a detailed work. Turner has confidently applied both media in both fluid and dry brush strokes. The image covers the whole of the surface of the recto, from edge to edge. It is possible that the artist has left parts of the support exposed and/or other parts with just a fine film of watercolour. The gouache has been used a little more sparingly though more deliberately. Though unspecific in areas used (i.e. not particularly fore/middle/back ground) it has been applied to highlight detail throughout.

There are some losses to the white and white mixed paint films where applied, in some places leaving only a faint illusion that there was highlighting there at all. It is known that Turner used little or no binder in his use of lead white which means that any pigment with enough lead white blended into it is prone to flaking and losses. It's likely that this work has previously been treated so it is now in quite good condition.

Jo Gracey
June 2001

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