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
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.