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Joseph Mallord William Turner, Margate (?), from the Sea

Key facts
Full title Margate (?), from the Sea
Artist Joseph Mallord William Turner
Artist dates 1775 - 1851
Date made about 1835-40
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 91.2 × 122.2 cm
Acquisition credit Turner Bequest, 1856
Inventory number NG1984
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Margate (?), from the Sea
Joseph Mallord William Turner

As with many of Turner’s paintings that were never exhibited in his lifetime the title of this picture was not his choice, but was decided on some 50 years later. We can’t be sure that it shows the north Kent seaside town of Margate, but the white cliffs just visible on the horizon recall other views of Margate by Turner. He was a frequent visitor to the town, particularly later in life, when he stayed with his companion, Mrs Booth, who lived above the harbour.

Whether or not the painting is of Margate is not that important, as the distance from the shore and the weather conditions would have made a detailed study of the buildings impossible. Instead, the painting is a fine example of Turner’s lifelong preoccupation with the changing character of the sky and the sea, and of the painterly freedom of his later works.

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