Joseph Mallord William Turner

Wreckage on a Shore, with Shipping Moored Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk and graphite on paper
Support: 143 × 192 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXVIII 36

Catalogue entry

This is among dozens of blue paper studies presumably made in connection with the Cowes Regatta events in the late summer of 1827; see the Introduction to this subsection. The shipwreck subject here is unique within this group, though not uncommon in Turner’s work as a whole; there is no indication of a particular location, and the scene may have been observed directly or made from memory or imagination as a potential composition. The wreckage of masts and spars washed up on the shore is occasionally shown in finished watercolours such as Tynemouth, Northumberland of about 1829 (destroyed by fire, 1962),1 engraved in 1831 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04572, T04573, T06092).
As noted in the Introduction, the present work and thirty-four other sheets were recorded in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory as unmounted, and ‘formed part of [a] parcel’ labelled by John Ruskin ‘O. 232. Chalk scrawls on grey. Rubbish.’2
There is another coastal scene, possibly with wreckage, on the verso (D40308)..
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, pp.396–7 no.827, reproduced.
Finberg 1909, II, p.702.
Technical notes:
Despite Finberg’s statement that this sheet was unmounted, the remnants of white mounting paper or tape on the verso are evident from the front at the corners.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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