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Creator:
Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775–1851, British
Title:

Yarmouth Sands

Date:
ca. 1840
Medium:
Watercolor, graphite and scraping out on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Dimensions:
Sheet: 9 3/4 x 14 3/8 inches (24.8 x 36.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1975.4.1417
Classification:
Drawings & Watercolors
Collection:
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
beaches | docks | landscape | lighthouses | marine art | sailboats | sand | sea
Associated Places:
England | Europe | Isle of Wight | United Kingdom | Yarmouth
Access:
View by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:5458
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In the late 1830s and early 1840s growing ill health led Turner to spend more time on the coast. Yarmouth Sands belongs to this period of engagement with marine subjects, when his focus shifted towards the threatening aspects of the sea with shipwrecks, storms, and violent waves becoming common themes. As in many of these late seascapes, Yarmouth includes vulnerable human figures against a violent storm. The result is an intense investigation of a natural phenomenon with an additional message about the frailty of human culture pitted against the forces of nature.

Gallery label for Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-06-09 - 2008-08-17)
Ruskin's familiarity with Turner's oeuvre was exceptional, and he once expressed surprise to learn that others less aware of the breadth of his work should have looked upon Turner principally as a sea painter in the 1830s. To him, and posterity, Tuyrner was the landscape painter without equal. But marine subjects represent a substantial part of Turner's output, with the sea holding a lifelong fascination for him. His earliest exhibited oil painting was a seascape--Fisherman at Sea (1796, Tate, London)--and in 1807, his Shipwreck (1803, Tate, London) became his first canvas to be reproduced as a print. In the later 1830s and early 1840s, the sea began to reappear frequently in Turner's art. This was partly the result of his growing ill health, which led him to spend more time on the coast, especially the Kentish harbors of Margate, Deal, and Folkestone. Not only did he produce major sea pieces such as Rockets and Blue Lights (1840, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts) in these years, but he also made countless small studies of the sea in oil and watercolor. Yarmouth Sands belongs to this period of renewed engagement with marine subjects, when his focus shifted towards the threatening aspects of the sea, with shipwrecks, storms, and violent waves becoming common themes. Although hard to date, Yarmouth Sands could conceivably have been the kind of closely observed sea study that informed his major marine paitinings like Rockets and Blue Lights in the final decade of his life. Typically, in these late seascapes, the sea in Yarmouth Sands is conceived as "a stage for human activity" with a violent storm tossing a ship dangerously close to the shore while a cluster of desperate disherman--distant descendants of John Robert Cozens's figures in works such as Il Parco degli Astroni (cat. no. 20)--attempt either to haul in their nets or the smaller fishing boat near the beach. These late watercolors are almost indistinguishable in techinque from his oil sketches at a time when he was even mixing watercolor pigments with his oils in major exhibition canvases. Although the handling of watercolor pushes the representation of the sea to the very limits of legibility, the result is a more intense investigation of natural phenomenon than any watercolorist had hiterto achieved. Rather than rest with laying color onto paper, Turner boldly attacked the paper's surface, erasing colors, and scratching out marks to make highlights in a manner that watercolorists a generation earlier had never attempted. His early biographer, John Burnet, argued: Of all the variety of subjects which the versatility of Turner's genius led him to paint, there was none which he seemed to be so completely master of, or execute with greater care of more spirit, than his sea-pieces, especially when the tempest-tossed waves threaten "to swallow navigation up"; nothing can exceed the appearance of turbulent motion with which he imbues them; their forms can only be caught sight of ere they hurry into confusion and become lost.

Matthew Hargraves

Hargraves, Matthew, and Scott Wilcox. Great British Watercolors: from the Paul Mellon collection. New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 2008, pp. 112-114, no. 49

Deluge (Yale Center for British Art, 2018-12-18 - 2019-03-24) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

JMW TURNER : Turner and Colour (Turner Contemporary, 2016-10-07 - 2017-01-08) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

JMW TURNER : Turner and Colour (Hôtel de Caumont, Aix-en-Provence, France, 2016-05-03 - 2016-09-18) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2008-06-09 - 2008-08-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (The State Hermitage Museum, 2007-10-23 - 2008-01-13) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Great British Watercolors from the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Center for British Art (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 2007-07-11 - 2007-09-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Turner 1996 (National Gallery of Victoria, 1996-06-23 - 1996-09-09) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Turner 1996 (National Gallery of Australia, 1996-03-17 - 1996-06-10) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Oil on Water - Oil Sketches by British Watercolorists (Yale Center for British Art, 1986-08-26 - 1986-11-09) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Turner and the Sublime (British Museum, 1981-05-15 - 1981-09-20) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Turner and the Sublime (Yale Center for British Art, 1981-02-11 - 1981-04-19) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Turner and the Sublime (Art Gallery of Ontario, 1980-11-01 - 1981-01-04) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

English Landscape (Paul Mellon Collection) 1630-1850 (Yale Center for British Art, 1977-04-19 - 1977-07-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

A loan exhibition of English drawings and watercolours from the collection of Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon of Upperville, Virginia, P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London, 1964, cat. no. 36, pl. XI, N5247.M385 L62 (YCBA) [YCBA]

An exhibition of English drawings and water colors from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, February 18-April 1, 1962, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1962, p. 43, cat. no. 90, NC228 U6 (YCBA) Copy 2 is on Mellon Shelf [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Oil on water, oil sketches by British watercolorists , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1986, pp. 57-59, fig. 66, ND467 C67 (YCBA) [YCBA]

English Drawings and Watercolours from the Mellon Collection, The Times (London), issue no. 56195, December 15, 1964, p. 6, Available online: The Times Digital Archive Also available on Microfilm: Film An T482 (SML) [ORBIS]

Michael Lloyd, Turner, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 1996, pp. 44, 234, no. 82, NJ18 T85 L57 1996 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Painting in England 1700-1850, collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon. , Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, p. 95, no. 144, ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Simon Schama, The Yale Centre for British Art, TLS, the Times Literary Supplement, Issue no. 3923, May 20, 1977, p. 620, Film S748 (SML) Also avaiable online in TLS Historical Archive (ORBIS) [ORBIS]

Turner et la couleur, Editions Hazan, Paris, 2016, p. 161, no. 126, NJ18 .T85 A12 2016 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christopher White, English landscape, 1630-1850, drawings, prints & books from the Paul Mellon Collection , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1977, p. 84, no. 151, pl. XXV, NC228 W45 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Andrew Wilton, The life and work of J.M.W. Turner, Academy Editions, London, 1979, pp. 468-9, No. 1406, NJ18 T85 +W577 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Andrew Wilton, Turner and the sublime, British Museum Publications, London, 1980, p. 153, no. 67, NJ18 T85 W579 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale Center for British Art, Great British watercolors : from the Paul Mellon Collection, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2007, pp. 114-115, no. 49, ND1928 .Y35 2007 (LC)+ Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale University Art Gallery, English drawings and watercolors, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, April 15 - June 20, 1965 , New Haven, 1965, cat. no. 36, Pl. XI, NC228 Y34 (YCBA) [YCBA]


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