Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Naked Couple Engaged in Sexual Activity

c.1810

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: 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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