Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Flying Angel


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk on paper
Support: 433 x 272 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXI 156

Catalogue entry

The torn edge of the original portion of the page seems to follow the pen outline of a group of figures similar to one of those in the study for the ‘First Plague of Egypt’ subject on folios 77 verso–78 recto (D05054–D05055; Turner Bequest LXXXI 152–153). Turner may therefore have removed a drawing of figures from this page in order to glue it on to another sheet, perhaps in preparation for a historical composition to be executed in watercolour. While no work of the kind is known, the remaining angel was presumably part of the excised subject; see also folio 80 verso (D05060; Turner Bequest LXXXI 158), where a Biblical angel urges Lot and his daughters to flee from Sodom.
Technical notes:
As discussed above, most of the page has been cut away, and what survives has been made up to full size by being set within a modern sheet of similar paper. Turner occasionally glued one sheet on top of another in order to rework a subject with which he was partly dissatisfied, though in such cases the attached paper is of the same manufacture as the main sheet: he would not have incorporated a drawing on rough blue paper into a finished work on Whatman paper. See for example the large watercolour of Edinburgh, from Caulton–hill, exhibited in 1804 (Tate D03639; Turner Bequest LX H).1

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.339 no.348, pl.56; for technical discussion see Peter Bower, Turner’s Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1787–1820, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1990, pp.67–8 no.23, reproduced.

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