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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Sunset behind Towers c.1830

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Sunset behind Towers c.1830
Turner Bequest CCLIX 248
Gouache on blue wove paper, 197 x 161 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLIX 248’ top right, ascending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Finberg gives the title ‘Sunset behind Towers’ to this gouache sketch, the structure to the right being the tower while tall buildings stretch to the left; the tower is coloured peach and the buildings violet in the light of the setting or perhaps rising sun.
The vertical format and restriction of colour to a roughly oval area at the centre suggests that this might be a rough idea for a vignette design for an engraved illustration, of which Turner produced many studies and finished examples on white paper; see Meredith Gamer’s ‘Vignette Watercolours c.1826–43’ section in the present catalogue. Reflecting his wider used of coloured supports in the 1830s, he also made some on blue paper, such as Tate D24692 and D24701 (Turner Bequest CCLIX 127, 136), both for published River Seine subjects.
Finberg’s 1909 Inventory included this in a group of sketches ‘mostly connected with the “French Rivers” series’, although ‘some Belgian subjects have also been included, and there may possibly be some Rhine and even English subjects among them’;1 in the absence of later suggestions, the date used is derived from Finberg.
For the grouping and general dating of these works, see the section Introduction.
Finberg 1909, II, p.789.
Blank except for inscriptions. Traces of white strips of paper along the edges of the sheet indicate an earlier mount. Inscribed in pencil ‘D24813’ bottom left.

Ben Pollitt
August 2019

How to cite

Ben Pollitt, ‘Sunset behind Towers c.1830 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2019, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, March 2023, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-sunset-behind-towers-r1202165, accessed 27 May 2024.