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    Joseph Mallord William Turner, R.A. (1775-1851) – Sunrise over the Sea, perhaps at Margate courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2023. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £1,032,200.

    Capturing the enigmatic fleeting beauty of changing sunlight celebrated across cultures and across time, Sunrise over the Sea, perhaps at Margate by J M W Turner is a highlight at Christie’s  Old Master and British Drawings and Watercolours sale on July 4 during Classic Week in London. Harriet Drummond, International Head of British Drawings and Watercolours, commented: “This remarkably well-preserved and ravishingly beautiful drawing is an exceptional example of the boldly expressive watercolours Turner made in his final years. Previously dated to the later 1820s, it is has now been associated by Ian Warrell for the first time with sheets of one of the ‘roll’ sketchbooks that were broken up and dispersed after Turner’s death. Turner deployed these light-weight books on many of his later travels in the early 1840s, notably in Germany, Venice and the celebrated final tours of Switzerland. In this instance, the dismantled book can be placed in the sequence of sketchbooks used during the summer of 1845 overlapping in its focus on cloudy skies over the sea with the contents of the ‘Channel’ sketchbook at the Yale Center for British Art, and several of those in the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain.”

    The watercolour is estimated at £600,000-800,000.

    Turner has posthumously often been celebrated for his depictions of sunset light, but in recent years many of the works John Ruskin and others had identified as that time of day have been retitled as sunrises. Turner confessed to a young admirer at the time: ‘when you are all fast asleep, I am watching effects of sunrise far more beautiful [than the sunsets people associated with him]; and then, you see, the light does not fail, and you can paint them’ (M. Lloyd, ‘A Memoir of J.M.W. Turner, R.A.’, (1880), Turner Studies, summer 1984, vol. 4, no. 1, p. 22). It was this kind of dedicated approach to the observation of changing light that anticipates Claude Monet’s method of painting successive canvases, working on each within a limited time frame during the course of a day; both Turner and Monet were especially drawn to the special character of dawn and twilight.

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