J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Rough Sea ?off Brighton or Deal c.1824-5

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
A Rough Sea ?off Brighton or Deal c.1824–5
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 314
Watercolour on white wove paper, 143 x 217 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 314’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Although this study of rough waves and overarching clouds gives no indication of a particular setting. Eric Shanes has suggested that it may relate to either of two watercolours among Turner’s Southern Coast designs (see the Introduction to this section).1 One of Brighton made in about 1824 (Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton and Hove),2 was engraved in 1825 as Brightonhelmston, Sussex (Tate impressions: T04420–T04421, T05288–T05996); another, Deal, Kent of about 1825 (Deal Town Council), 3 was engraved in 1826 (T04422, T05236–T05237, T05998). They show the towns from off shore across choppy seas; the Brighton view has a bright, clearing sky with a rainbow, but the backdrop to Deal is dark with cloud over a bright horizon.
Other studies linked to Brighton or Deal in the present section are Tate D25410, D25426 and D36117 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 287, 303, CCCLXIV 270). Tate D25477 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 354) may represent an idea for a Southern Coast composition including Walmer Castle, near Deal. Despite the present work’s relatively small scale,4 Gerald Wilkinson, an artist and independent writer on Turner, remarked appreciatively: ‘If I had to choose just one of the “Colour Beginnings” it would be this one.’5
See Shanes 1997, pp.94, 102.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.354 no.479.
Ibid., p.355 no.481.
See Wilkinson 1975, pp.100–1.
Ibid., p.138.
Technical notes:
The bright sky between the clouds and waves has been left as blank paper to maximise the contrast. Eric Shanes has drawn stylistic parallels between this study and numerous other ‘colour beginnings’ of coastal subjects (Tate D25365, D25383, D25393, D25410, D25422, D25426, D25477, D36117; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 243, 260, 270, 287, 299, 303, 354, CCCLXIV 270), even suggesting they ‘may have been created during the same session of work’.1
Shanes 1997, p.61

Matthew Imms
July 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘A Rough Sea ?off Brighton or Deal c.1824–5 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, July 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, February 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-rough-sea-off-brighton-or-deal-r1184413, accessed 25 June 2024.