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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Figures on the Sands c.1822-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Figures on the Sands c.1822–8
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 248
Watercolour on white lightweight writing paper, 190 x 231 mm
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII–248’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The composition of this work recalls Turner’s Brighthelmstone, a highly finished pencil and watercolour drawing of about 1796 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).1 This may be a later sketch of the same subject, possibly produced as a preparatory work for a design in the East Coast of England, the Ports of England, or the Southern Coast of England engraving series.2
The handling is loose and fluid: the slope of land in light brown wash merging into the blue-grey wash rendering the settlements beyond. The buildings atop this gradient are in negative, marked out by a few simple strokes of the brush on bare paper and crowned by an overcast sky. Figures are suggested on the beach in black wash, walking across the grey sands towards the grey-green sea.

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2013

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.315, no.147.
Shanes 1997, p.94 Appendix I ‘Brighton’.

How to cite

Alice Rylance-Watson, ‘Figures on the Sands c.1822–8 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, March 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, September 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-figures-on-the-sands-r1148227, accessed 25 September 2021.