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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Sailing Boat or Boats at Sea with Blustery Clouds c.1823-6

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
A Sailing Boat or Boats at Sea with Blustery Clouds c.1823–6
Turner Bequest CCCLXV 27a
Watercolour on white wove paper, 240 x 304 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCCLXV – 27a’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
There seems to be a hint of a second, darker sail just behind and to the right of the prominent white one which has been differentiated by dampening and lifting out the background colour, suggesting two boats in close formation in changeable light.
Although placed without further comment after about 1830 by Finberg,1 this work is dated here in line with the period of the ‘Little Liber’ series, by comparison with the maritime subject, light tones and dynamic, loose handling of one of the canonical watercolour designs, Ship in a Storm (Tate D25432; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 309a). See also Tate D25339 and D35926 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 217, CCCLXIV 83) in the present subsection.
See also the breezy landscape subject Tate D36318 (Turner Bequest CCCLXV 27b) in a similar mode, still attached below the present work as discussed in the technical notes here.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1213.
Technical notes:
Although stamped, measured and imaged as a separate work, this is the upper half of a once-folded vertical sheet shared with Tate D36318 (Turner Bequest CCCLXV 27b), another horizontal landscape. Their overall size is approximately 483 x 304 mm. The fold is evident as a darkened horizontal line between them. The division is fairly neat except where the wash at the top right of the other composition extends slightly onto the bottom right of this half, suggesting that the sheet was worked on unfolded at least for part of the time.
As Ian Warrell has noted:
Many of the sheets of paper in the Turner Bequest were trimmed or cut down after they became national property in order that they could be mounted and shown to the public. This policy sometimes meant that groups of studies which Turner had made on one sheet, as part of the same creative process, were separated. Happily, this piece of paper still gives some idea of how Turner worked on several complementary subjects at the same time.1
Warrell 2007, p.110.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘A Sailing Boat or Boats at Sea with Blustery Clouds c.1823–6 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-sailing-boat-or-boats-at-sea-with-blustery-clouds-r1183695, accessed 24 May 2024.