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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner ?Gloucester Cathedral ('Twilight at Sea') c.1823-6

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
?Gloucester Cathedral (‘Twilight at Sea’) circa 1823–6
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 212
Watercolour on white wove paper, 185 x 301 mm
Watermark ‘J Whatman | Turkey Mills | 1823’
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Inscribed by ?John Ruskin in red ink ‘212’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 212’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Eric Shanes has suggested this work as a variation on the primary ‘Little Liber’ Gloucester Cathedral design1 (see Tate D25430, and also D25368; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 307, 246), while grouping it additionally with sea and sky studies among Turner’s ‘colour beginnings’.2 The similar combination of a low horizon with a tower on the left against a twilight sky seems more than fortuitous, although the treatment has more of the atmosphere of a beach or seascape than the two mentioned above. On that basis, Nicola Moorby has characterised ‘the iridescent hues of the evening sky ... off-set by the dull washes used for the sea and beach below’.3
Shanes 1997, pp.94, 98.
Ibid., pp.101, 102.
Moorby 2007, p.26.
Technical notes:
The grey-brown foreground appears to have been partly lifted with brush strokes while wet.
Blank, save for inscriptions in pencil ‘D25334’, ‘CCLXIII 212’ and ‘[?AB 79 P]’ bottom right. There is sporadic, mottled brown staining at the edges.

Matthew Imms
November 2011

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘?Gloucester Cathedral (‘Twilight at Sea’) c.1823–6 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 2011, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-gloucester-cathedral-twilight-at-sea-r1133286, accessed 26 May 2024.