Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Group of Figures, Possibly at a Rag Fair or at Reading

c.1807–14

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 69 x 112 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D08325
Turner Bequest CXXII 27

Catalogue entry

In this rough sketch, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, perhaps half a dozen figures are arrayed in the foreground, apparently reclining, seated and standing, while rough shapes above may indicate buildings beyond. Finberg’s tentative suggestion of a ‘rag fair’ (a market for old clothes and fabrics)1 may be correct, or the ‘R’ may stand for Reading, the Berkshire town; see under folio 24 verso (D08320) and compare the ‘Reading’ inscriptions there and on folio 26 verso opposite (D08324). The second word might alternatively be ‘Farm’, suggesting an agricultural scene, though ‘Fair’ is perhaps more likely.

Matthew Imms
September 2013

1
For London rag fairs see Barbara Brackman, ‘Fabric Retailing: The Rag Fair’, Material Culture, accessed 12 September 2013, http://barbarabrackman.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/fabric-retailing-rag-fair.html.

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