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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Margate and Life Drawing c.1830–1840

Shipping in a Storm c.1834 (from The Fire at Sea sketchbook)

From the entry

These five sketchbooks appear to have been used rather haphazardly over the course of the course of the 1830s and present a rather eclectic mix of subjects and media. Collectively, they include studies of Westminster Abbey and London Bridge but also flights of fancy depicting Piranesi-like vaulted interiors and shipping at sea afflicted by storm and fire. All but The Fire at Sea volume are made up of pencil or chalk drawings on white paper, which instead features watercolour and gouache works on a thick greyish-brown support. By far the most frequently recurring imagery in these volumes is the scenery of Kent, especially the coastal terrain in and around the harbour town of Margate. Only the Life Class (2) volume is without some reference to the Kentish countryside or Thames estuary although its series of rapidly drawn academic nudes has a close counterpart in Life Class (1).
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Mouth of the Thames sketchbook c.1832
D27226–D27280; D41084–D41085
Turner Bequest CCLXXVIII 1–40a
Gravesend and Margate sketchbook
D27281–D27365; D41144–D41145
Turner Bequest CCLXXIX 1–52a
Life Class (2) sketchbook ?1835–40
D27481–D27517; D41102
Turner Bequest CCLXXIX (b) 1–37
The Fire at Sea sketchbook
D27792–D27832; D27834–D27845; D41445
Turner Bequest CCLXXXII 1–43
These five sketchbooks appear to have been used rather haphazardly over the course of the course of the 1830s and present a rather eclectic mix of subjects and media. Collectively, they include studies of Westminster Abbey and London Bridge but also flights of fancy depicting Piranesi-like vaulted interiors and shipping at sea afflicted by storm and fire. All but The Fire at Sea volume are made up of pencil or chalk drawings on white paper, which instead features watercolour and gouache works on a thick greyish-brown support. By far the most frequently recurring imagery in these volumes is the scenery of Kent, especially the coastal terrain in and around the harbour town of Margate. Only the Life Class (2) volume is without some reference to the Kentish countryside or Thames estuary although its series of rapidly drawn academic nudes has a close counterpart in Life Class (1).

John Chu
March 2015

How to cite

John Chu, ‘Margate and Life Drawing c.1830–1840’, March 2015, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, August 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/margate-and-life-drawing-r1181707, accessed 21 July 2018.