'Now for the Painter' (Rope) - Passengers Going on Board

Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775 - 1851

'Now for the Painter' (Rope) - Passengers Going on Board

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775 - 1851


When Turner exhibited the painting, its title was part of an elaborate joke between himself and some friends. The word 'painter' being used either for the artist or for the guide rope that the sailor is throwing to secure the boat whilst passengers go aboard. The subtitle refers to the port of Calais on the horizon. A maritime scene depicted on a windy day and choppy seas. In the centre foreground of the composition are two boats: the smaller and nearer of the boats carries a group of five figures and a large travelling chest, and includes the figure of a woman sheltering a baby, a male figure lowering the sail, and the helmsman with a red cap standing up whilst holding the rudder, hailing the boat that they are approaching; the second and larger boat bears a pennant inscribed 'PAS DE CALAIS' and its deck is crowded with sixteen figures of sailors and passengers - one of the sailors on far left prepares to throw the 'painter' rope over to the small boat. In the background, to the left and beyond a buoy, is a group of boats; to the right, in the direction of the port of Calais, sails a lone boat. On the right horizon is the line of the French coast. The sky is predominantly cloudy with a strip of blue across the top edge.

Display Label

'Now for the Painter' (Rope) - Passengers Going on Board 1827 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Oil on canvas In nautical terms a 'painter' is a boat rope. Turner's title makes a play on the word at the expense of another artist, Clarkson Stanfield. The latter had failed to complete a 'painter' subject in time for the Royal Academy exhibition of 1826. The landscape of Calais is seen in the background; Turner had recently returned from the French port following a sketching tour of the Loire valley. The dark figure raising his arm in the main boat is possibly a self-portrait. Turner emphasises human vulnerability through turbulent seas and swaying boats, a recurring Romantic theme throughout his career. Gift of FJ Nettlefold 1947.507

Object Name

'Now for the Painter' (Rope) - Passengers Going on Board

Date Created



Canvas: 174.3cm x 223.5cm
Frame: 203.5cm x 252.6cm

accession number


Place of creation







Gift from Mr Frederick John Nettlefold


© Manchester Art Gallery

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