Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Naked Couple Engaged in Sexual Activity

c.1810

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 115 x 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D18500
Turner Bequest CCX a 19

Catalogue entry

As discussed in the introduction, most of the drawings in this book are rapid figure studies, many of which are explicitly erotic; others may be similar in intent, but are difficult to make out, and may be of classical or biblical subjects. Here a reclining naked woman draws up her leg as a fragmentary figure approaching her. In relation to Ruskin’s supposed destruction of similar Turner Bequest material,1 Gerald Wilkinson noted of the present subject:
I imagine that folio 18 [sic, but referring to a reproduction of the present work] would have been a likely candidate for the flames. Perhaps it escaped because its tentative ‘nymphs and satyrs’, to use Finberg’s description, from part of a sequence of studies which Ruskin might have regarded as more ‘creative’ than the odd erotic drawing.2
1
But see Warrell 2003, pp.9–10.
2
Wilkinson 1975, p.29.
Verso:
Blank

Matthew Imms
January 2012

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