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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Sketches: A Harbour; a Figure, and a Sky Study 1831

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 26 Recto:
Sketches: A Harbour; a Figure, and a Sky Study 1831
Turner Bequest CCLXV 26
Pencil on white wove paper, 59 x 96 mm
Inscribed in pencil by Turner ‘5 November |Now very light Blue sun Egg pink light [?]under | Day [?]hour [?]ray Red dark Blue’ across the centre of the page, ‘fl[...] very light Blue sun [or ‘faun’] Egg [?]pink light [...] | Day [?]hour [?]ray Red dark [?]Blue’ across the bottom of the page
Inscribed in red ink by John Ruskin ‘26’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXV 26’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This page contains three sketches, perhaps made on three separate occasions: a harbour, a figure and a sky study. The small sketch at the top of the page shows a town on a coast with a long quay, just beyond which is a structure in the water. This brings to mind sketches of Leith with its Martello tower just beyond the quay (see folio 21; D25678, and a sketch from 1822: Tate D17598; Turner Bequest CC 53a).
With the sketchbook turned to the right is a sketch of a figure in a long robe and headdress, who seems to be holding a small item such as a candle or key. This is one of several studies of figures scattered throughout this sketchbook of costumed figures (for references see folio 57; D25745). There are two more robed figures on folio 54 verso (D25740).
The sky study, boxed off at the bottom of the page, is one of three on consecutive pages of this sketchbook. This sketch, labelled ‘5 November’ shows the sun in a ‘very light blue’ sky. It is presumably near sunset, and the ‘egg’ yoke-coloured sun is shown lighting up the clouds and turning them ‘pink under[neath]’. The inscription at the bottom of the page may describe the appearance a little later when the ‘Red’ ‘rays’ of the sun could be seen in the ‘dark blue’ sky. Further descriptions accompany the sky studies on folios 26 verso and 27 (D25689, D25690).

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Sketches: A Harbour; a Figure, and a Sky Study 1831 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2009, 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-sketches-a-harbour-a-figure-and-a-sky-study-r1134052, accessed 17 January 2022.