Joseph Mallord William Turner

Workmen Lunching in a Gravel Pit

c.1797

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 434 x 373 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D00876
Turner Bequest XXXIII E

Technique and condition

This composition has been painted on very smooth white wove paper. The blue of the water contains, unusually for Turner, two colour washes in different black pigments: a contrast to his common habit of mixing grey and black from blue and red pigments. Lights have been created by leaving blank areas and allowing the paper to show through. A brownish-red lake pigment and a more conventionally-coloured red lake were used for flesh tints and costumes details, with, probably, indigo. All of these brighter colours are applied locally to reserved white areas to maximise their brilliance. Reflections and shadows are indicated with loosely applied zig-zagging marks which capture the effect of moving shadows from breeze-blown trees growing further up quarry, on moving water.

Helen Evans
October 2008

Revised by Joyce Townsend
February 2011

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