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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Vignette Study of a Ship for 'The Andes Coast', Campbell's 'Poetical Works' circa 1826-36

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Vignette Study of a Ship for ‘The Andes Coast’, Campbell’s ‘Poetical Works’ circa 1826–36
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 55
Watercolour, approximately 113 x 170 mm on off-white machine-made cartridge paper, 181 x 227 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘(55’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 55’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This rough watercolour vignette is one of a group of more than thirty watercolour sketches in the Turner Bequest which have been identified as preliminary studies for Campbell’s Poetical Works, published by Edward Moxon in 1837. Jan Piggott has described the work as a preliminary design for The Andes Coast circa 1835 (National Gallery of Scotland), which Turner designed to accompany part of Thomas Campbell’s poem, ‘The Pleasures of Hope’.1 The illustration was engraved by Edward Goodall and published in Edward Moxon’s 1837 edition of Campbell’s Poetical Works.2 This study reflects the motif of a solitary ship amidst a stormy sea. For a general discussion of sketches related to The Andes Coast, see Tate D27524; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 7.
All of the studies related to Campbell’s Poetical Works are painted on cheap, lightweight paper and executed in a rough, loose style. This work was part of a parcel of studies described by John Ruskin as ‘A.B. 40. PO. Vignette beginnings, once on a roll. Worthless’.3 For an explanation of his meaning of ‘once on a roll’ see the technical notes above. Finberg records how Ruskin later described his phrasing in a letter to Ralph Nicholson Wornum as ‘horrible’, adding ‘I never meant it to be permanent’.4
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, no.1272; reproduced in colour in Mungo Campbell, A Complete Catalogue of Works by Turner in the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh 1993, p.55.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.614. There is one impression in Tate’s collection (T04766).
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.894.
Ibid., vol.I, p.xi.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower has noted that this study is made on off-white low-grade machine-made cartridge paper. The maker is unknown and there is no watermark. This paper would have been relatively cheap to buy and could have been purchased from a colourman, cut off from a roll to the desired size. Turner has used the ‘felt’ side of the paper which has slightly more texture than the ‘wire’ side, allowing better adhesion of pigment and graphite to the surface of the sheet. Many of Turner’s vignette studies were made on a similar grade of machine-made paper, and the artist employed the ‘felt’ side on all of them.1
Bower 1999, p.59.
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘AB 40 P | O’ top left, inverted

Nicola Moorby
October 2009

How to cite

Nicola Moorby, ‘Vignette Study of a Ship for ‘The Andes Coast’, Campbell’s ‘Poetical Works’ c.1826–36 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, October 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-vignette-study-of-a-ship-for-the-andes-coast-campbells-r1133397, accessed 28 May 2024.