Joseph Mallord William Turner A Classical Harbour: Study for ‘Dido and Aeneas’ 1805

Artwork details

A Classical Harbour: Study for ‘Dido and Aeneas’
Date 1805
Medium Pen and ink on paper
Dimensions Support: 150 x 258 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XC 17
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Catalogue entry

Turner’s Dido and Aeneas (Tate N00494)1 was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1814. The narrative is set outside Carthage, the city which Turner must be trying to imagine in various sketches in this sketchbook. Butlin and Joll cite the coloured study on folio 21 (D05520) as probably the ‘first idea’ for the picture, but as Hill recognised, it has its own prototype in this sketch, which dovetails with another composition sketch and figure studies in the Hesperides (1) sketchbook (Tate D05773–D05778; Turner Bequest XCIII 4 verso, 5 verso–7).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.92–3 no.129 (pl.135).

David Blayney Brown
August 2007

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