Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Windmills ?near Boulogne


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 230 × 326 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLVIII 16 a

Catalogue entry

This pair of windmills may be the same that appeared in a 1846 sketch by Eyre Crowe (1824–1910) of north Boulogne (Tate T08911). The grass verges upon which these structures sit have been achieved in several layers of green, ochre, pink, and blue with significant areas of rapid wet-on-wet glazing. The two windmills are worked in extremely liquid watercolour – the further in purple, the closer orange – with the latter anchored to its platform with rich patch of ‘dropped-in’ indigo. Windmills sails (and perhaps a suggestion of their movement) have been achieved by dragging relatively dry pigment across the page in single intersecting sweeps of the brush. Robert Upstone finds these virtuosic markings ‘perfectly handled’.1
Turner’s interest in the pictorial possibilities of windmills – a subject that he particularly associated with Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669) – dated at least as far back as about 1808. For more on this subject, see the entry for a windmill drawing in the Windmill and Lock sketchbook of around that date (Tate D08055; Turner Bequest CXIV 72a).

John Chu
November 2013

Upstone 1993, p.56.

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