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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner ?Lancaster Sands c.1826

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
?Lancaster Sands c.1826
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 10
Watercolour on white wove paper, 312 x 491 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom centre
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 10’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This colour study has been compared by Eric Shanes with the watercolour Lancaster Sands of about 1826 (British Museum, London),1 engraved in 1828 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04534, T04535).2 Turner made the potentially hazardous crossing of Morecambe Bay at low tide when returning from the Lake District in 1816,3 and subsequently made a first version of the subject in his watercolour Lancaster Sands of about 1818 (Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery),4 with its obscuring rain and consequent lack of specific topography in the distance.
In the England and Wales version the blue Cumbrian mountains are shown in detail to the north-west, in a shallow band on the central horizon under the late afternoon sun. These features may be prefigured in the present study, although its sky suggests sunset. The identification is not certain, and the work has been exhibited in recent years under generic titles in the spirit of Finberg’s ‘Sunset over the sea’.
A ‘colour beginning’ described in the present catalogue as possibly showing Flint Castle on the Dee Estuary has also been proposed as a Lancaster Sands view (see Tate D36319; Turner Bequest CCCLXV 28). There are other colour studies of the shallow estuaries south of the Lake District: Duddon Sands (Tate D25226; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 104); Cartmel Sands (Tate D25282; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 160); and a wide view of Morecame Bay (Tate D25473; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 350).
See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.393 no.803, reproduced.
Shanes 1997, pp.95, 104.
See David Hill, In Turner’s Footsteps: Through the Hills and Dales of Northern England, London 1984, pp.84–5.
Ibid., p.367 no.581, reproduced.
Technical notes:
Jeremy Robinson has described this work, ‘filled with the richest blues; all the colours are put on over a pale yellow ground; there is a strange citron-yellow glow behind everything’.1 Christine Boyer Thiollier has analysed the combinations of ‘wet in wet’ and other technique employed.2 Eric Shanes has suggested that the ‘spotting’ evident here and in other colour studies may have been a creative, deliberate use of chance to generate aspects of the composition in the tradition of the ‘blot’ techniques which informed the work of Alexander Cozens (1717–1786).3
The image on the Tate website, made in 2000, shows the work before conservation,4 mounted on an old backing sheet with the area equating to the missing bottom right corner roughly washed in with watercolour and bearing its Finberg number in pencil. By 2002, the backing had been removed and the corner made good integrally, with speculative watercolour infill closely matching the style and colour of the original.5 A red ink ‘10’, which was above the ‘–’ of the stamped number, is no longer evident, and a dark stain along the lower section of the right-hand edge has been removed.
Robinson 1989, p.58.
Thiollier 2007, p.24.
See Shanes 1997, pp.40, 94.
As reproduced in Lebrun, Moorby and Thiollier 2007, p.[17],
As reproduced in Warrell 2002, p.96; and Warrell 2003, p.99.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘?Lancaster Sands c.1826 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, December 2013, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-lancaster-sands-r1144260, accessed 25 June 2024.