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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Landscape with a Low Sun, Possibly Related to 'Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus' c.1828-38

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Landscape with a Low Sun, Possibly Related to ‘Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus’ c.1828–38
Watercolour on white wove paper, 373 x 554 mm
Watermark ‘J Whatman | Turkey Mill | 1828’
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom centre
Inscribed in pencil ‘AB 93 P O’ and ‘CCLXIII 129?’ top right
Inscribed in pencil ‘cclxiii 129’ top left, ascending vertically
Stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram above ‘CCLXIII – 129’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This ‘colour beginning’ focuses on the bright disk of reserved paper indicating the sun in a yellow sky on the centre line about two thirds of the way across towards the right, above a broad expanse of water, with dark forms to the right and mauve and ochre forms to the left, and the sky darkening to blue at the top left. These basic compositional elements have led Eric Shanes to suggest a link1 with Turner’s oil painting Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1829 (National Gallery, London),2 although he describes any connection as ‘visually tenuous’.3 He tentatively notes another colour study, titled ‘On the Lake of Lucerne (?)’ by Finberg (Tate D25391; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 268),4 in similar terms.5
Andrew Wilton had earlier proposed a link between the Ulysses oil and another colour study (Tate D25187; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 65),6 loosely similar but now thought to show St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall and to be connected with Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales.
Although listed by Finberg as the ‘reverse’, the present work is currently mounted as the recto of the sheet. The other side, another possible England and Wales watercolour study, is D25251 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 129).
Shanes 1997, pp.98, 100, 105.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.183–5 no.330, pl.331 (colour).
Shanes 1997, p.30.
Finberg 1909, II, p.834.
Shanes 1997, p.30; see also pp.98, 100, 106.
Andrew Wilton, Turner in the British Museum: Drawings and Watercolours, exhibition catalogue, Department of Prints and Drawings, British Museum, London 1975, p.96.
Technical notes:
The top of the sheet has been neatly trimmed, but apparently by sight alone, as it dips towards the right in a gradual curve, leaving the right-hand edge some 20 mm shorter than the left.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Landscape with a Low Sun, Possibly Related to ‘Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus’ c.1828–38 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-landscape-with-a-low-sun-possibly-related-to-ulysses-r1144315, accessed 27 May 2024.