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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Sunset behind Clouds over the Sea c.1823-6

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Sunset behind Clouds over the Sea c.1823–6
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 305
Watercolour on white wove paper, 306 x 468 mm
Watermark ‘J Whatman | Turkey Mills | 1819’
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 305’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
There is a glint of red at the centre where the sun has reached the horizon of the unsettled sea, tinting the rolling clouds obscuring it in a blood-like hue. This strongly toned, velvety-textured ‘Little Liber’-like design1 may show the direct influence of Francis Danby’s 1824 painting Sunset at Sea after a Storm (Bristol Museum and Art Gallery), a sensation on its first appearance, as discussed in the overall Introduction to the present section.2
Eric Shanes has compared this work with the canonical ‘Little Liber’ watercolour St Michael’s Mount (Tate D25434; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 311),3 and Ian Warrell has noted a similarity to the perhaps even more apocalyptic Tate D25429 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 306).4 The effect clearly stayed with Turner, as he made a similarly intense variation in the Whalers sketchbook of about 1845 (Tate D35240; Turner Bequest CCCLIII 1).
See Warrell 1993, p.295, and Warrell 1994, p.138.
See also Wilton 1983, p.233.
See Shanes 1997, p.98.
See Warrell 2007, p.111.
Blank; laid down. White wove paper backing sheet inscribed in pencil ‘76’ right of centre, ascending vertically; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII.305’ bottom centre; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLXIII – 305’ bottom left.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Sunset behind Clouds over the Sea c.1823–6 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-sunset-behind-clouds-over-the-sea-r1183691, accessed 24 May 2024.