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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Moonlight over the ?Normandy Coast 1845

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 14 Recto:
Moonlight over the ?Normandy Coast 1845
Turner Bequest CCCLX 15
Watercolour on white wove paper, 232 x 332 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘15’ top left, upside down
Blind stamped with the Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCCLX 15’ top left, upside down
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
To create this nocturnal coastal view, Turner has deployed a gamut of watercolour techniques. The moonlit sea is indicated by a large area of ‘reserved’ blank paper while its choppy movements are depicted by a broken, snaking line in liquid blue-grey and by the rhythmic flicking of a thicker brush in paler grey. Relatively detailed ochre and dark blue brush-work brings forth the nuances of a cloudy night sky from grey washes. The whiteness of the moon, towards the top left of the page, is achieved with a small ‘reserved’, or perhaps ‘stopped out’, patch of blank paper, and given extra lustre by the ‘dropping-in’ of a dark spot of indigo immediately beneath.
For reasons set out in the Technical notes in the sketchbook Introduction, this work appears inverted in relation to the volume as foliated.
Blank; except for light patches of grey watercolour transferred from folio 15 recto opposite (D35474; Turner Bequest CCCLX 16).

John Chu
February 2014

How to cite

John Chu, ‘Moonlight over the ?Normandy Coast 1845 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, February 2014, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, April 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-moonlight-over-the-normandy-coast-r1173569, accessed 29 January 2022.