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  • oil painting depicting harbor scene, showing full sky over docked ships and people interacting on land*ALERTS: Long alternative text*oil painting depicting harbor scene, showing full sky over docked ships and people interacting on land

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    The Harbor of Dieppe: Changement de Domicile​, exhibited 1825, but subsequently dated 1826
    Oil on canvas
    68 3/8 x 88 3/4 in. (173.7 x 225.4 cm)
    The Frick Collection; Henry Clay Frick Bequest
    © The Frick Collection

    Turner visited the French fishing port of Dieppe, in Normandy, twice before painting this canvas in his London studio. The work draws from sketches made on site, as well as from memory and imagination. In this romantic view, signs of modernization, such as the steamboats then in use, are excluded. Turner focuses on the vibrant energy of the town filled with glowing sunlight and hundreds of figures engaged in lively activities. The French subtitle Turner assigned the painting — “Changement de Domicile” (change of home address) — may refer to the couple at right, who appear to be loading or unloading objects from boats. Turner elevates his genre scene through the monumental scale of the canvas and the compositional format borrowed from the grand seaports of Claude Lorrain. Here, as in Claude’s paintings, a central core of sun reflected on water draws the eye back in space, while two arms of the city, with its buildings and boats, reach around it. Journalists of the time criticized Turner’s golden tones, considering them more appropriate to a southern climate.

  • oil and watercolor painting of ship arriving into harbor

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Cologne, the Arrival of a Packet-Boat: Evening, exhibited 1826
    Oil on canvas
    66 3/8 x 88 1/4 in. (168.6 x 224.2 cm)
    The Frick Collection; Henry Clay Frick Bequest
    © The Frick Collection

    A year after presenting Dieppe at the Royal Academy, Turner exhibited Cologne. A former Roman colony and a free imperial city during the Holy Roman Empire, Cologne had long been a major commercial, educational, and religious center. Situated on the banks of the Rhine, Cologne was still largely medieval in appearance when Turner visited. Only a small section of the city is visible in his painting: the tower and spire of the church of Gross St. Martin piercing the evening sky, with defensive towers, walls, and the customs house leading up to it. The laboring women in peasant dress and the abandoned fishing contraption contribute to a sense of time standing still. The ferry boat carrying female tourists to shore is about to break the spell. One critic noted that “it is impossible to shut our eyes to the wonderful skill, and to the lightness and brilliancy which he [Turner] has effected.”

  • oil painting of harbor scene

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    The Harbor of Brest: The Quayside and Château​, ca. 1826–28
    Oil on canvas
    68 × 88 in. (172.7 × 223.5 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    © Tate, London 2016

    This unfinished painting of Brest is now recognized as the third, along with Dieppe and Cologne, in a series of northern European ports with which it shares a similar palette and scale. The painting was rediscovered in the basement of the National Gallery, London, in the early 1940s, and its subject was more recently identified by the exhibition’s co-curator, Ian Warrell, based on cursory sketches from one of Turner’s trips to France. As in Dieppe, the viewer looks down a golden path of light on water to the sun, with elements of the city’s architecture on either side. At left, under the Château de Brest, a mass of figures stands on the pier, some in traditional Breton costume. Barely visible are the outlines of a masting station, a wooden crane fixed to the quayside, which Turner painted out. The painting offers an illuminating view into Turner’s working methods in his grand harbor scenes. He laid in the composition with areas of diluted oil paint — in tones of blue, orange, yellow, and ocher — applied thinly over a white absorbent ground. The forms of buildings, boats, and figures were then developed through modeling in light and dark.

  • oil painting of depicting people on land near river, with bridge in background

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Dieppe: The Port from the Quai Henri IV, ca. 1827–28
    Oil on canvas
    23 3/4 x 35 1/8 in. (60.3 x 89.2 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    © Tate, London 2016

    This broadly painted oil sketch was long thought be an Italian scene but recently has been identified as a view of Dieppe. The arched bridge, recognizable from Turner’s sketches, connects the quai on the right to the fishing village of Le Pollet across the harbor. (The bridge is obscured by a sail in the Frick oil.) This sketch may have been made for an unrealized painting of Dieppe or as a color experiment.

  • *oil painting of crowded ships and small boats seemingly leaving shore into intense light, with many people on shore

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Regulus, exhibited 1828, reworked and exhibited 1837
    Oil on canvas
    35 1/4 x 48 3/4 in. (89.5  x 123.8 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    © Tate, London 2016

    In this imagined port scene, painted shortly after Turner abandoned work on The Harbor of Brest, the artist treats a subject uniquely suited to his brilliant effects of light. Its title alludes to an often-told episode of ancient history in which the Roman general Marcus Atilius Regulus was forced by his Carthaginian captors to stare at the sun until it blinded him. Here, the hero is barely perceptible, reduced to a few pale brushstrokes at the top of the stairway at right. In searching for Regulus, the viewer experiences his fate, forced to stare at the blazing light radiating across sky and sea. By depicting the story of a man blinded by the sun, Turner was issuing a defiant response to the criticism that had been leveled against the intense luminosity of Harbor of Dieppe and Cologne.

  • oil painting depicting Ovid being dragged by Roman soldiers at shore, with sun setting at center

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Ancient Italy — Ovid Banished From Rome, exhibited 1838
    Oil on canvas
    37 1/4 x 49 3/16 in. (94.6 x 125 cm)
    Private collection
    © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY

     

    This work treats the ancient poet Ovid’s purported exile from Rome, reconstructed here as a panoply of temples, triumphal arches, and statuary from different periods of the city’s history. Turner leaves Ovid’s identity within the image ambiguous: he could be the figure being arrested in the foreground, or he could be absent altogether, already banished or deceased (a tomb at lower left bears his full name). In any case, with the hazy scene and setting sun, Turner evokes the feeling of a final farewell to Rome and its golden age.

  • oil painting depicting ancient Rome harbor and bridge at center

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus. The Triumphal Bridge and Palace of the Caesars Restored, exhibited 1839
    Oil on canvas
    36 x 48 in. (91.4 x 121.9 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    ©Tate, London 2016

    In the mid-ground on the left side of this image, tiny figures bow to greet Agrippina the Elder, virtuous widow of the assassinated general Germanicus. Although the citizens of Rome hailed her return, it marked the beginning of a dark period, during which the empire was ruled by tyrants: Agrippina’s son, Caligula, and grandson, Nero. Turner alludes to this tragic undercurrent, and to Rome’s eventual decline, with the presence of the moon at daytime. It hovers above the scene, even as warm sunlight spreads over the city and glimmers across the surface of the river.

  • detailed sketch of city on river

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    River Front at Cologne, Looking Upstream with the Bayenturm, Gross St. Martin’s, Town Hall, Choir of Cathedral and St. Kunibert’s; Deutz on East Bank of the Rhine
    From Rhine Sketchbook, 1817
    Graphite on paper
    7 15/16 x 10 7/16 in. (20.2 x 26.5 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    ©Tate, London 2016
     

    In 1817, Turner made his first trip to Cologne as part of a larger tour up and down the Rhine. Here, he captures the ancient city’s impressive river front, known as the Rhine Crescent. His vantage point is similar to that in Cologne, made some nine years later. The tower of the church of Gross St. Martin, a focal point in the painting, is seen in the middle of the bend in the river. This trip marks Turner’s first trip to the Continent since 1802 to gather material for his oil paintings and watercolors, which he preserved in hundreds of sketches made in pocket-sized notebooks, as well as in larger ones suitable for broader vistas.

    The complete Rhine Sketchbook is illustrated online by Tate

  • detailed sketch of "row" housing on river

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Dieppe, with the Hotel d’Anvers 
    From Rivers Meuse and Moselle Sketchbook, 1824
    Graphite on paper
    3 1/16 x 4 5/8 in. (7.8 x 11.8 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    ©Tate, London 2016

    See other side of page

    In September 1824, Turner worked in this pocket-sized sketchbook at Dieppe, a port he had first visited three years earlier. Over the course of his two-day stay in the city, Turner covered numerous pages with sketches that included panoramic views and quick drawings of street life. Here, on one side, is a study of the facade of the Hôtel d’Anvers, identifiable in the final oil painting and still standing today in Dieppe on the quayside. The other page is crammed with studies of figures and architectural details, surrounded by almost illegible annotations in English and French. A few of Turner’s notes record the colors of the outfits worn by the figures.

    The complete Rivers Meuse and Moselle Sketchbook is illustrated online by Tate.

  • sketch of architectural details and figures

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Figures and Buildings at Dieppe
    From Rivers Meuse and Moselle Sketchbook, 1824
    Graphite on paper
    3 1/16 x 4 5/8 in. (7.8 x 11.8 cm) (average sheet)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    ©Tate, London 2016

    See other side of page

    In September 1824, Turner worked in this pocket-sized sketchbook at Dieppe, a port he had first visited three years earlier. Over the course of his two-day stay in the city, Turner covered numerous pages with sketches that included panoramic views and quick drawings of street life. On one side, is a study of the facade of the Hôtel d’Anvers, identifiable in the final oil painting and still standing today in Dieppe on the quayside. The other page, shown here, is crammed with studies of figures and architectural details, surrounded by almost illegible annotations in English and French. A few of Turner’s notes record the colors of the outfits worn by the figures.

  • watercolor and mixed media of village and figures on river bank

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    A View of Boppart, with Figures on the River Bank, 1817
    Watercolor, gouache, black chalk, and scratching out on paper
    7 7/8 x 12 1/2 in. (20 x 31.8 cm)
    Yale Center for British Art; Paul Mellon Collection

    Townspeople go about their everyday tasks on the banks outside the gates of this small town located on the Rhine, upriver from Cologne. Details such as a daydreaming man smoking his pipe stand out amid the bustle of activity. This sheet was part of the series of fifty-one watercolors depicting towns and monuments along the Rhine that Turner painted for his patron and friend Walter Fawkes after returning from his first trip to the Rhineland in 1817.

  • watercolor displaying bathers in a river in foreground and city in background

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Cologne from the River, 1820
    Watercolor on paper
    12 1/8 x 18 1/4 in. (30.8 x 46.3 cm)
    Seattle Art Museum; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Brechemin
    Photo Paul Macapia

    This watercolor shows Cologne’s celebrated waterfront from the south — the opposite direction from that of the Frick painting, made several years later. Visible here are many of the city’s landmarks: the medieval watchtower in the foreground and, beyond it, the massive Gothic cathedral, the church of Gross St. Martin, and the church of St. Kunibert with its twin towers. The balletic river swimmers, who have left their clothes in a clump on the raft, add a lighthearted note to the scene.

  • watercolor of Rhine River with mountains on either side

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    On the Upper Rhine, ca. 1820
    Watercolor on paper
    17 5/8 x 13 3/4 in. (44.8 x35 cm)
    Bolton Library & Museum Services

    Most likely an imagined view, this image combines some of the river’s most distinctive picturesque traits — its winding path and steep gorges. Logging was one of the region’s major commercial enterprises, with lumber transported on extended rafts for processing and distribution. Though this raft is relatively small, in travel journals from the period, British tourists marveled at rafts up to a thousand feet long.

  • watercolor displaying boats on tumultuous sea, with castle at center of tall rolling hills

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Dover Castle from the Sea, 1822
    For Marine Views
    Watercolor and gouache on paper
    15 15/16 x 23 5/8 in. (40.5 x 60 cm)
    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Bequest of David P. Kimball in memory of his wife, Clara Bertram Kimball
    © 2017 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    Recognizable by its white cliffs, Dover was the primary departure port for the ferry from England to France. While fishing boats and brigs struggle against strong wind and choppy current, a steamboat spewing a smoky trail pulls into the port’s dock. The juxtaposition of various modes of transportation reflects Turner’s fascination with the changes brought about by industrialization.

  • watercolor of men fishing off small boats, with ship and sun rising in background

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Sun-Rise: Whiting Fishing at Margate, 1822
    For Marine Views
    Watercolor on paper
    16 3/4 x 25 1/2 in. (42.6 x 64.8 cm)
    Private collection

    As a child, Turner spent time in Margate, a fishing village and resort in Kent that he returned to throughout his life. He created numerous works of the picturesque town, of which this is the largest watercolor. Turner places the sun directly in front of the viewer and fills the scene with its radiant glow. A few passing ships with animated figures on board ripple the calm water.

  • watercolor displaying night scene of boats docked in harbor under full moon

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Shields, on the River Tyne, 1823
    For The Rivers of England
    Watercolor on paper
    6 1/16 x 8 1/2 in. (15.4 x 21.6 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    © Tate, London 2016

    See related engraving

    Turner depicts the backbreaking work of laborers shoveling coal from small boats onto a cargo ship in this nocturnal scene set in northeast England. The splendor of the full moon serves as a spotlight enabling round-the-clock labor. The glow of the furnace at right competes with the moon’s cool brilliance in a scene of almost surreal beauty. In the print, some of the indistinct qualities in Turner’s watercolor take on more defined form.

  • watercolor depicting ships with open sails on river, and sun sitting in sky

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Stangate Creek, on the River Medway, ca. 1823–24
    For The Rivers of England
    Watercolor on paper
    6 3/8 x 9 7/16 in. (16.2 x 24 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    ©Tate, London 2016

    See related engraving

    In this glowing watercolor of Stangate Creek, within the Medway estuary, Turner balances the open area on the left with a cluster of boats in the foreground on the right. The dark silhouettes of floating hulks or decommissioned men-of-war converted into inspection stations for cargo on incoming trade ships add a note of mystery. According to an inscription on an engraver’s proof, Turner instructed the engraver Thomas Lupton to replace the logs in the foreground with a buoy.

  • watercolor depicting crowd at a fish market on shore, with ships and city in background

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Fish-Market, Hastings (Early Morning), 1824
    For Marine Views
    Watercolor on paper
    17 1/2 x 26 in. (44.5 x 66 cm)
    Hastings Museum & Art Gallery

    The faint image of the castle on the cliffs and the area’s characteristic fishing sheds on the far right identify this town as Hastings. Gathered on the shore — a few miles from the famous landing site of William the Conqueror — is a group of fishermen, local residents, and tourists, some in traditional costume. In front of them is a bountiful display of fish, an example of the beautiful still lifes that give local flavor to Turner’s scenes.

  • watercolor depicting busy harbor scene with London bridge in background

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Old London Bridge and Vicinity (also known as The Port of London), 1824
    For Views in London and Its Environs
    Watercolor and gouache on paper
    11 1/2 x 17 1/2 in. (29.2 x 44.5 cm)
    Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Jones Bequest
    © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

    Turner captures the congestion of his native city, which was then emerging as a major commercial hub. Throngs of sailors and fisherman, as well as commercial goods, seem to spill out of the image in the foreground. In the distance, a barge has been forced to lower its mast in order to pass beneath the low arches of Old London Bridge, by then obsolete. The bridge was demolished a few years later, in 1830.

  • watercolor of ships and small boats on open water with city in background

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Portsmouth, 1824
    For The Ports of England
    Watercolor on paper
    6 5/16 x 9 7/16 in. (16 x 24 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    © Tate, London 2016

    Turner captures the vibrancy of the harbor of Portsmouth, the oldest base in the Royal Navy, looking back from the water. The over life-size man-of-war cutting across turbulent water conveys a sense of England’s military might, while townspeople in small crafts grapple with the elements. At the far right is the tower of the Admiralty Semaphore, from which signals were relayed to London.

  • watercolor displaying tumultuous sea, with boat and bridge at center, and city in backround

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Brighthelmston, Sussex, ca. 1824
    For Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England
    Watercolor on paper
    5 3/4 x 8 3/4 in. (14.6 x 22.2 cm)
    Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

    See related engraving

    By the nineteenth century, Brighton (traditionally known as Brighthelmston) was one of England’s most fashionable resorts, as well as the departure point for the cross-Channel ferry to Dieppe. Featured in this watercolor are the chain pier at right (where the ferry boats docked) and King George IV’s Indian-style Royal Pavilion on the shore, both completed the previous year. Turner’s soft washes of watercolor are translated into sharp hatching in the engraving. The rainbow in the sky also becomes more pronounced.

  • waterer color and gouache work depicting bridge over river with mountains in background

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Grenoble Bridge, ca. 1824
    Watercolor and gouache on paper
    20 7/8 x 28 1/4 in. (53 x 71.8 cm)
    The Baltimore Museum of Art; Purchase with exchange funds from Nelson and Juanita Greif Gutman Collection
    Photo Mitro Hood

    Turner captures the grandeur of the landscape surrounding Grenoble, at the foot of the Alps in southeast France. The warm colors of the town, where figures crowd the river banks, are set off by the snowcapped mountains in the background. Although painted about 1824, this view is closely based on sketches Turner made of Grenoble during his first visit to the Continent two decades earlier.

  • watercolor of city view from river with black objects at center

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Cologne: Colour Study, ca. 1824–32
    Watercolor on paper
    10 9/16 x 16 1/16 in. (26.8 x 40.8 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    © Tate, London 2016

    Turner captures in a few brushstrokes Cologne’s skyline as seen from Deutz, the small town on the opposite bank of the river. The diagonal line of dark brushstrokes cutting across the water suggests the floating bridge (wooden planks across a row of pontoons) that was introduced in 1822 to connect the two cities. Among the many church towers that punctuate Cologne’s skyline, the spire of Gross St. Martin — which would later serve as the focal point of Turner’s oil — rises above the others.

  • watercolor of shore scene with female in foreground and ships and city in distance

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Scarborough, ca.1825
    For The Ports of England
    Watercolor and graphite on paper
    6 3/16 x 8 7/8 in. (15.7 x 22.5 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    © Tate, London 2016

    Of this view of Scarborough, the critic John Ruskin wrote, “nothing is so perfectly calm as Turner’s calmness; and I know very few better examples of this calmness than the place before us.” In the foreground, a woman glancing back at her dog draws us in. The presence of the twelfth-century Scarborough Castle places this fleeting moment within the context of time.

  • watercolor displaying small boats filled with men and women at dockyard, with full sky in view

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Devonport and Dockyard, Devonshire, ca. 1825–29
    For Picturesque Views in England and Wales
    Watercolor and gouache, and scratching out on cream wove paper
    11 3/4 x 17 5/16 in. (29.8 x 44 cm)
    Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum; Gift of Charles Fairfax Murray in honor of W.J. Stillman
    Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College

    This vista of the naval dockyard of Devonshire, on the southwestern coast of England, includes tent-shaped buildings that were used for the construction of men-of-war. Set in the period following the Napoleonic Wars, ships are being discharged and soldiers relieved from service. The brilliant golden light pushing away the dark storm clouds has been interpreted as an allegory of the coming peace.

  • watercolor of harbor scene with men fixing mast in water from small boat in foregrround

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Aldborough, Suffolk, ca. 1826
    For Picturesque Views of England and Wales
    Watercolor and gouache on paper
    11 x 15 3/4 in. (28 x 40 cm)
    Tate; Bequeathed by Beresford Rimington Heaton 1940
    © Tate, London 2016

    Turner captures the reflection of the sunlight on the still water with exquisite delicacy in this peaceful scene of a Suffolk town now typically known as Aldeburgh. Boats pass by while a group of men repairs a broken mast. In the background, a Martello tower — one of the many forts built along England’s coast during the Napoleonic Wars — is a reminder of the recent conflict.

  • watercolor depicting view down city street

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Dieppe: A View down the Grande Rue from the Quayside,
    ca. 1826–27
    Watercolor on paper
    6 3/4 x 9 1/2 in. (17.1 x 24.1 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    © Tate, London 2016

    In this view of the Grande Rue, the avenue that leads to Dieppe’s interior, Turner focuses on the grandeur of the city’s architecture. With careful attention to light and shadow, the buildings’ geometric forms are evoked in diffuse, overlapping bands of yellow, pink, and purple pigments. In Harbor of Dieppe, this thoroughfare is seen in the background, thronged with people.

  • watercolor of view displaying river with city running along it, amongst hills

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Dieppe from the North-East​, ca. 1826–27
    Graphite and watercolor on paper
    6 11/16 x 9 3/8 in. (17 x 23.8 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    © Tate, London 2016

    Turner painted this bird’s-eye view of the harbor in the small hamlet of Le Pollet, perched atop a cliff that looks across the water to the Quai Henri IV, Dieppe’s main artery. He had made sketches from this vista on previous visits to the port. Rising above the band of buildings that enclose the harbor’s basin are two of the city’s historic landmarks: the church of St. Jacques and the Château de Dieppe, on the right.

  • graphite and watercolor depiction of land alongside river, populated with carriages and people

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    The Quai Henri IV at Dieppe, Looking Toward the Old Bridge, ca. 1826–27
    Graphite and watercolor on paper
    6 5/8 x 9 5/16 in. (16.9 x 23.7 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
    © Tate, London 2016

    The viewpoint in this work is the same as in the oil sketch in the exhibition. The thinly washed paper comes through in the image of the crowded quai, giving the whole composition an airy quality. This work was most likely painted after Turner’s oil painting of Dieppe was exhibited in 1825 and may be a preliminary sketch for an unrealized print series.

  • watercolor depicting densely populated harbor scene

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Le Havre: Sunset, ca. 1827
    For The English Channel
    Watercolor strengthened with pen and red ink on white paper
    7 x 10 1/4 in. (17.8 x 26 cm)
    Indianapolis Museum of Art; Gift in memory of Dr. and Mrs. Hugo O. Pantzer by their children

    Situated at the mouth of the Seine, Le Havre was one of France’s busiest trade ports. Turner renders the figures and buildings along the banks in thin washes of pigment so they appear to dissolve in the setting sun. This watercolor, along with the two nearby, was probably intended to be engraved for an unrealized print series depicting harbors along the English Channel in both France and England.

  • watercolor of calvary moving towards castle in center of dark, ominous clouds

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Mont-St.-Michel, Normandy​, ca. 1827
    For The English Channel
    Watercolor on paper
    7 x 10 1/16 in. (17.8 x 25.6 cm)
    The Hecksher Family Collection
    Image courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Photo Randy Dodson

    The light emitted by the moon and torches in this imaginative night view of Mont-St.-Michel creates an eerie glow that contrasts with the luminous sheets of the other two works from The English Channel series in the show — Le Havre and The Jute. In the foreground, beneath the looming architecture of the medieval abbey, French officers arrest smugglers on the flat sands exposed by the low tide.

  • pencil and watercolor work depicting jousting on open water, with surrounding crowd in boats

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    The Jute; A Jousting Contest at Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, Normandy​, ca. 1827
    For The English Channel
    Pencil and watercolor with gum arabic on paper
    7 11/16 x 12 3/8 in. (19.5 x 31.5 cm)
    Private collection
    Courtesy Christie's

    A lively joust dominates this view of the Norman harbor of Saint-Vaast-la-Hougue, identifiable from the faint silhouette of the fort in the center of the composition. Two figures precariously duel on neighboring boats while surrounding figures cheer and clamber in and out of the water. As there is no evidence that a tournament took place at this site, this sheet is an example of Turner mingling observation and imagination.

  • watercolor scene of docked boats at river at night with city on hill in background

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Dudley, Worcestershire, ca. 1832
    For Picturesque Views in England and Wales
    Watercolor on paper
    11 9/16 x 17 in. (29.3 x 43.2 cm)
    National Museums Liverpool, Lady Lever Art Gallery
    © National Museums Liverpool, Lady Lever Art Gallery

    Located in the Midlands of central England — also known as the Black Country due to the pollution — Dudley in Turner’s time was undergoing rapid transformation into an industrial hub. The aligned smokestack and church steeple structure the image around the contrast of past and present. Turner subsumes the entire scene in a haze of smog by wetting the paper before applying watercolor, creating a view of industry that is at once romantic and oppressive.

  • watercolor depicting boats in harbor with city in background

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Ehrenbreitstein, ca. 1832
    Watercolor on paper
    11 5/8 x 17 1/8 in. (29.5 x 43.5 cm)
    Bury Art Museum, Greater Manchester, UK
    © Bury Art Museum, Greater Manchester, UK

    The fortress of Ehrenbreitstein that sits atop a cliff across the Rhine from the city of Koblenz is one of Turner’s most frequently depicted sights along the Rhine. The ruinous appearance of the fort suggests that the watercolor is based on sketches Turner made in 1817, before the Prussians finished rebuilding it at the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

  • watercolor of steamboat and other boat on river

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    A Steamboat and Other Vessels on the Thames at Adelaide Wharf near London Bridge, (formerly known as Fire at Fenning’s Wharf, on the Thames at Bermondsey), ca. 1836
    Pencil and watercolor on paper
    11 9/16 x 17 3/8 in. (29.4 x 44.1 cm)
    The Whitworth, The University of Manchester
    Courtesy of the Whitworth, The University of Manchester

    Turner uses animated brushwork and a cool color palette to create an almost abstract image of London. The dark cloud on the right, once thought to have been smoke from a fire, is now seen as the polluting trail of a steamboat, faintly visible in front of the arches of London Bridge. Figures become ghostly silhouettes against a view of the harbor transformed by the rapid rise of steam power.

  • watercolor of chateau on river

    Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Château de Dieppe, ca. 1845
    Watercolor on paper
    9 1/2 x 12 3/16 in. (24.2 x 30.9 cm)
    Tate; Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

    The Château de Dieppe, dating from the fifteenth century, is a city landmark located on a hill at the end of Dieppe’s Grande Rue. Marked by its picturesque towers and their conical tops, the castle overlooks the Channel. Turner painted this view after his final trip to the Continent in 1845. Atmospheric effects take precedence over topographical accuracy in this watercolor, the latest in date in the show. Today, the building houses the city’s museum.

  • print displaying night scene of boats docked in harbor under full moon

    Charles Turner (1774–1857), after Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Shields, on the River Tyne, 1823
    For The Rivers of England
    Mezzotint (engraver’s proof)
    Sheet: 12 3/4 x 17 1/4 in. (32.4 x 43.8 cm)
    Plate: 7 5/8 x 10 1/4 in. (19.4 x 26 cm)
    Image: 6 x 8 5/8 in. (15.2 x 21.9 cm)
    Yale Center for British Art; Paul Mellon Collection

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    Turner depicts the backbreaking work of laborers shoveling coal from small boats onto a cargo ship in this nocturnal scene set in northeast England. The splendor of the full moon serves as a spotlight enabling round-the-clock labor. In the watercolor, the glow of the furnace at right competes with the moon’s cool brilliance in a scene of almost surreal beauty. In the print, some of the indistinct qualities in Turner’s watercolor take on more defined form.

  • print of Turner painting, depicting boat of tumultuous water, with city and bridge in view

    George Cooke (1781–1834), after Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Brighton, 1825
    For Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England
    Line engraving (first published state)
    Sheet: 11 x 14 1/4 in. (27.9 x 36.2 cm)
    Plate: 9 1/2 x 12 3/8 in. (24.1 x 31.4 cm)
    Image: 6 1/8 x 9 1/4 in. (15.6 x 23.5 cm)
    Yale Center for British Art; Paul Mellon Collection

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    By the nineteenth century, Brighton (traditionally known as Brighthelmston) was one of England’s most fashionable resorts, as well as the departure point for the cross-Channel ferry to Dieppe. Featured in the watercolor are the chain pier at right (where the ferry boats docked) and King George IV’s Indian-style Royal Pavilion on the shore, both completed the previous year. Turner’s soft washes of watercolor are translated into sharp hatching in the engraving. The rainbow in the sky also becomes more pronounced.

  • print depicting ships with open sails on river, and sun sitting in sky

    Thomas Goff Lupton (1791–1873), after Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
    Stangate Creek, on the River Medway, 1827
    For The Rivers of England
    Mezzotint (first published state)
    Sheet: 9 7/8 x 14 in. (25.1 x 35.6 cm)
    Plate: 8 1/4 x 10 3/4 in. (21 x 27.3 cm)
    Image: 6 3/8 x 9 1/2 in. (16.2 x 24.1 cm)
    Yale Center for British Art; Paul Mellon Collection

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    In the watercolor of Stangate Creek, within the Medway estuary, Turner balances the open area on the left with a cluster of boats in the foreground on the right. The dark silhouettes of floating hulks or decommissioned men-of-war converted into inspection stations for cargo on incoming trade ships add a note of mystery. According to an inscription on an engraver’s proof, Turner instructed the engraver Thomas Lupton to replace the logs in the foreground with a buoy.