Joseph Mallord William Turner

Vignette Study of Boat in Waves; ?Study for ‘Lord Ullin’s Daughter’ for Campbell’s ‘Poetical Works’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 171 × 237 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 71

Catalogue entry

Although A.J. Finberg titled this spare watercolour sketch ‘Clouds’,1 the scene depicted is actually a seascape, as indicated by the form of the ship faintly drawn in pencil on the right-hand side of the composition. Although the design is too vague to be firmly linked with any of the finished illustrations, the study has been tentatively identified by Jan Piggott as related to Turner’s series of designs for Thomas Campbell’s Poetical Works.2 The general subject matter, as well as the location and position of the ship, closely resemble another watercolour sketch in the Turner Bequest (see Tate D27580; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 63). Both examples may represent experimental studies for Lord Ullin’s Daughter circa 1835 (National Gallery of Scotland),3 Turner’s vignette illustration engraved by Robert Wallis to accompany Campbell’s poem of the same title.4 There are a number of other studies in the Turner Bequest that may relate to Lord Ullin’s Daughter (Tate D27557, D27558, D27580, D27581, D27638; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 40, 41, 63, 64, 121).
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.894.
Piggott 1993, p.96.
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, no.1280; reproduced in colour in Mungo Campbell, A Complete Catalogue of Works by Turner in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh 1993, p.59.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.622. There is one impression in Tate’s collection (T04774).
Technical notes:
Peter Bower has noted that this study is made on off-white low-grade machine-made cartridge paper. The maker is unknown and there is no watermark. This paper would have been relatively cheap to buy and was inferior to standard drawing papers. Turner has used the ‘felt’ side of the sheet which has slightly more texture than the ‘wire’ side, allowing better adhesion of pigment and graphite to the surface of the sheet. Many of Turner’s vignette studies were made on a similar grade of machine-made paper, and the artist employed the ‘felt’ side on all of them.1
Bower 1999, p.59.
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘CCLXX 71’ top left, inverted

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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