Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Curtained Bed, with a Man and Woman Embracing

c.1834–6

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Medium
Watercolour, chalk and graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 77 x 101 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D28792
Turner Bequest CCXCI b 2

Catalogue entry

The criss-cross pattern of watercolour strokes on the right suggest a patterned curtain. Without the pencil and reddish chalk work the figures would barely be suggested by the rough washes alone, and it is a moot point whether Turner intended the watercolour shapes as figures in this juxtaposition or read them as such retrospectively. Raphael Rosenberg sees them as having been developed out of fortuitous irregularities in the original washes.1 There appears to be a couple reclining on a bed, the man supporting the woman against his chest with his left arm enfolding her; the top of an upward brushstroke is outlined to suggest a knee drawn up. The chalk shapes above and to the left of the couple remain obscure.
For a discussion of the improvisatory and often erotic nature of the watercolour studies making up most of this sketchbook, see the Introduction.
1
See Rosenberg 2007, pp.327–8 note 51.
Verso:
Blank, save for offsetting and very slight continuation of watercolour from folio 3 recto opposite (D28793).

Matthew Imms
May 2014

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