Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Leafless Tree


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 174 x 125 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XLII 4

Catalogue entry

Compare the leafless branches studied in the earlier Wilson sketchbook (Tate D01243; Turner Bequest XXXVII 126) which is inscribed ‘Yorkshire’. See folio 8 verso (D01691; Turner Bequest XLII 16), under which it is suggested that Turner may have drawn trees in the park at Fonthill while working there on a commission from William Beckford (1760–1844) in 1799.
Studies of bare branches made in the Marford Mill sketchbook in about 1794, such as Tate D40753 and D00274 (Turner Bequest XX 12, 13), are associated with male figures clambering among them, as on Tate D00302, D00313 and D00315 (Turner Bequest XX 30a, 36a, 37a). There seems to be a reference to the imagery of prints by Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) of banditti in rugged landscapes, or perhaps to the figures clambering in the shrouds of burning ships in the 1783–91 painting Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, September 1792 (The Siege of Gibraltar) by John Singleton Copley (1738–1815) in the Guildhall Art Gallery, London.1

Andrew Wilton
March 2013

See Andrew Wilton, Turner as Draughtsman, Aldershot 2006, p.114.

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