Joseph Mallord William TurnerStudy for 'A Tempest', Rogers's 'Poems' c.1830-2

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Artwork details

Artist
Title
Study for 'A Tempest', Rogers's 'Poems'
Date c.1830-2
MediumGraphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensionssupport: 239 x 170 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D27617
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 100
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Study for ‘A Tempest’, Rogers’s ‘Poems’ circa 1830–2
D27617
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 100
Pencil and watercolour, approximately 130 x 130 mm on white wove paper, 235 x 169 mm
Inscribed in pencil with short ruled lines along lower left and right sides of sheet
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 100’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This is a preliminary colour study for the finished watercolour, A Tempest, one of seven vignette illustrations which Turner produced for the last work in Rogers’s Poems, ‘The Voyage of Columbus’ (see Tate D27719; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 202). Although the two works depict the same general subject, they differ significantly in palette and form. In this study, Turner shows the angel soaring out of the clouds with arms outstretched, as if to cast a protective shade over Columbus’s ships sailing below. The composition bears some similarity with a tiny thumbnail sketch drawn by the artist in his working copy of the 1827 edition of Poems (see Tate D36330; Turner Bequest CCCLXVI p.244). The small composition also depicts ships at sea with a supernatural figure soaring across from the right. Adele Holcomb has also drawn attention to a further slight study found in the margin beside the description of the sinister spirit Merion (see Tate D36330; Turner Bequest CCCLXVI p.250). She believes this rejected watercolour vignette develops the bird-like figure hinted at by the artist.1
This work was part of a parcel of studies described by John Ruskin as ‘Studies for Italy. Coarse, but noble’. 2 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’.3
1
Holcomb 1966, p.93.
2
A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings in the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.II, p.896.
3
Finberg 1909, vol.I, p.xi
Verso:
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘CCLXXX 100’ bottom right and ‘128 | b’ lower centre left, descending left, and ‘AB 83 P | R’ bottom left, descending left-hand edge
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 100’ top left, descending left-hand edge

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Revised by Nicola Moorby
August 2008

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