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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Sunsets 1831

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 27 Recto:
Sunsets 1831
D25690
Turner Bequest CCLXV 27
Pencil on white wove paper, 59 x 96 mm
Inscribed in pencil by Turner ?‘all acros’ top left, ‘clouds edged grey green [or gold grey] and | Blue [?]below’ centre, ‘16 of Nov’ lower right inverted, and ‘Dark all around | the [?]sun | yellow [...]’ bottom left inverted
Inscribed in red ink by John Ruskin ‘27’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXV 27’ bottom right
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The three sky studies on this page were, according to the inscription, made on the ‘16 of Nov[ember]’. Like the sketches on folios 56 and 56 verso (D25743, D25744) they record the way that the sun lights up the clouds, with descriptions of colours and other visual effects that cannot be drawn in pencil. Thus the sketch at the top of the page shows the sun bursting through the dark clouds with its long rays lighting up the sky ‘all acros[s]’. With the dark clouds enveloping the sun which yet sends rays upwards through a break at the top right, this sketch resembles the appearance of the moon in A Tempest – Voyage of Columbus 1831–2 (watercolour, Tate D27719; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 202), studies for which appear in this sketchbook (folios 29 verso and 30; D25694, D25695).
Beneath this may be a study of the sun over the sea or another body of water as the orb shown in the sky appears to be nearly touching its reflection below. The inscription described the ‘clouds edged with grey green’ (or ‘gold grey’ as David Wallace-Hadrill has read it) while the sky is ‘cold and blue’.1
At the bottom of the page the third sketch was made with the book inverted and shows the clouds which are ‘Dark all around the [?]sun’, which is ‘yellow’
1
David Wallace-Hadrill, ‘Berwick CCLXV checklist’, [circa 1992], Tate catalogue files.
Verso:
Blank

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Sunsets 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-sunsets-r1134054, accessed 15 May 2021.