Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Dentist’s Shop: Study for ‘The Unpaid Bill, or the Dentist Reproving his Son’s Prodigality’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 115 x 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCV a I

Catalogue entry

Finberg listed this ‘Leaf of sketch book’ among ‘Miscellaneous Black and White’ drawings of 1810–20 (CVCV (a) I). It is now returned (with the image inverted) to this sketchbook where, although not numbered by John Ruskin like most of the contents, it must belong on the evidence of the paper and its connection with other drawings for The Unpaid Bill, or the Dentist Reproving his Son’s Prodigality (collection of the Schindler Family).1 Finberg did list as ‘Missing’ a ‘Page 76’ at this point in the book, having not made this connection.
For related drawings in this sketchbook see comment to folio 77 (D06486; Turner Bequest XCIX 73). Developing a quicker outline on folio 81 verso (D06494; Turner Bequest XCIX 77a), this is a detailed sketch for the left half of the picture, depicting the working contents of the dentist’s shop with the lathe and cloth-covered vice as Turner painted them. If folded to overlap folio 79 verso (D06491; Turner Bequest XCIX 75a) it seems to match up with a drawing for the right quarter of the picture. While illustrating the drawing, Hamilton does not discuss it.
The leaf is now badly discoloured.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.61–2 no.81 (pl.91).

David Blayney Brown
March 2009

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