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Past Exhibition

Shields, on the River Tyne

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.