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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Sunset 1831

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 26 Verso:
Sunset 1831
Turner Bequest CCLXV 26a
Pencil on white wove paper, 96 x 59 mm
Inscribed in pencil by Turner across the page
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turned to the right, this page contains a long inscription which is transcribed below.
Long [...]
?Later it went behind a ?cloud
sea went sunny and appeared to
make a hole of light in sky
the ?effect the appearance of a shaft on [...]
strike [...] then move [...] with
?changing tides
The accompanying sketch depicts low clouds lit from beneath by a setting or rising sun above a calm sea. The inscription provides a narrative of the changing effect of the sun as it went behind a cloud, giving the appearance of a ‘hole of light in [the] sky’ and sending a ‘shaft’ of light onto the sea. The same effect is seen in Turner’s painting, Rough Sea with Wreckage circa 1840–4 (Tate N01980).1
This sketch may be one of a sequence with folios 26 and 27 (D25688, D25690), which are dated 5 and 16 November (presumably 1831) respectively.
At the bottom of the page are a few lines continuing from the sketch on folio 27.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.285 no.455.

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Sunset 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-sunset-r1134053, accessed 20 July 2019.