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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Sun Rising over the Sea c.1820-40

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
The Sun Rising over the Sea c.1820–40
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 68
Watercolour on white wove paper, 298 x 391 mm
Watermark ‘J Whatman | Turkey Mills | 1819’
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Inscribed in red ink ‘68’ bottom right (faint)
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 68’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The paleness of the sky suggests this is a sunrise, as Finberg described it,1 although Andrew Wilton has called it a sunset.2 The sun and its reflection on the water were left reserved as blank paper for maximum luminosity. Wilton has related the study to ‘Turner’s work on ... “Little Liber Studiorum”; but it is extremely difficult to say with any certainty when such drawings were made. ... Whether they were actually noted down from nature is almost impossible to ascertain; it is more likely that Turner made them in a sequence, within a very short space of time’3 See the ‘Little Liber c.1823–6’ section of this catalogue, and particularly Study of Sea and Sky (Tate D25479; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 356).
For other ‘colour beginnings’ focusing on a centrally placed sun, see the Introduction to this subsection. See also another study with high, highly coloured clouds laid in ‘wet-in-wet’, Tate D25259 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 137).
Finberg 1909, II, p.819.
See Wilton 1977, p.36.
Blank; no inscriptions.

Matthew Imms
March 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘The Sun Rising over the Sea c.1820–40 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, March 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-the-sun-rising-over-the-sea-r1183168, accessed 26 July 2021.