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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Sailing Boats near a Buoy: ?Study for 'The Wreck Buoy' 1845

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 108 Verso:
Sailing Boats near a Buoy: ?Study for ‘The Wreck Buoy’ 1845
Turner Bequest CCCLXI 108a
Pencil on white wove paper, 86 x 111 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Blue’ centre left and ‘[?Yellow ...] | Bright Light on the Wreck Buoy’ bottom centre
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, a sailing boat is shown off the coast, approaching a shape in the left foreground which is presumably the ‘Wreck Buoy’ noted by Turner. John Gage suggested Turner’s full inscription might have been the germ of the idea of repainting a dark seascape of about 1807 with newly mysterious luminosity1 and exhibiting it as The Wreck Buoy in 1849 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool).2 The reworked version includes a buoy and boat similarly juxtaposed, with other shipping introduced beyond.
As noted in the sketchbook’s Introduction, adjacent pages include other drawings and notes of effects of light over the sea, likely made at Margate.
See Gage 1969, pp.232–3, as noted in Butlin and Joll 1984, p.273, and Milner 1990, p.76.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.272–3 no.428, pl.33 (colour).
Technical notes:
There is extensive brown staining, possibly indicating water damage in the 1928 Tate flood.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Sailing Boats near a Buoy: ?Study for ‘The Wreck Buoy’ 1845 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-sailing-boats-near-a-buoy-study-for-the-wreck-buoy-r1184099, accessed 27 November 2020.