Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Group of Falling Naked Figures

c.1799–1805

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 271 x 436 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D05065
Turner Bequest LXXXI 163

Catalogue entry

Jerrold Ziff has proposed that the drawing, made with the page turned horizontally, is related to the lost painting of the Army of the Medes Destroyed in the Desart by a Whirlwind.1 Another group of tangled figures is on folio 84 recto (D05067; Turner Bequest LXXXI 165), and is inscribed by Turner ‘Whirlwind’. This is an indication of the type of figure subject he had in mind, though both drawings are very different from the study in the Dynevor Castle sketchbook (Tate D01566–D01567; Turner Bequest XL 60a–61), with its emphasis on the cloud of dust raised by the whirlwind, a feature of the exhibited picture commented on by contemporary critics, as Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll note.2
Finberg suggested that this drawing is related to Turner’s plans for a ‘Deluge’ subject;3 Butlin and Joll disagree.4 In fact, D05067 has more elements suggestive of ‘Deluge’ subject matter.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.13–15 no.15; see Ziff 1964, p.330.
2
See Butlin and Joll 1984, p.14.
3
See Finberg 1909, I, p.218.
4
See Butlin and Joll 1984, p.44.

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