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This portrait vividly conveys Turner's rather unprepossessing appearance in his last years. He generally disliked having his portrait taken, which means that most of the surviving images of him were produced surreptitiously. Here he is shown at a social gathering, possibly at the home of Elhanan Bicknell, one of the collectors who continued to buy Turner's pictures in the 1840s. The allusion to the Fallacy of Hope under the image refers to the title of the ongoing poetic fragment from which Turner took quotations to accompany his exhibited pictures.

August 2004