Turner's SketchbookBy David Blayney Brown
The 'Skies' sketchbook takes its name from its many richly coloured sky studies. While weather and climate were longstanding interests for Turner, the dramatic consequences of the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, darkening skies and reddening sunsets around the world and turning 1816 into a 'year without a summer' surely caught his attention. Since the pages of this sketchbook are watermarked 1814, its more intensely-coloured studies may document these effects which lasted for more than a year. Most of the skies in the book were presumably observed in England, but a few may have been seen in Italy when Turner visited in 1819. Notably varied cloudy skies also appear in Turner's paintings at this period, especially in those arising from his journey to Germany and the Netherlands in 1817. Turner's friendship with his Yorkshire patron Walter Fawkes, who bought one of these pictures, occasioned most of the other sketches here. They include views of Fawkes's London house, Windsor and Eton which Turner visited with Mr and Mrs Fawkes in 1818. This edition of the sketchbook reproduces all these beautiful drawings in near-facsimile, with an illustrated introduction by Tate Turner expert David Blayney Brown discussing their background and impact.