Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Reclining Nude with One Arm Reaching behind her Head

c.1834–6

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

Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 77 x 101 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D28867
Turner Bequest CCXCI b 53

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, despite Finberg’s calling it a ‘group of figures’,1 the subject appears to be a solitary naked woman, reclining with her arms and head in shadow in the foreground, and her torso and thighs in the light beyond. There is perhaps a suggestion of a setting of bedclothes and curtains. The studies on folios 54 verso and 55 verso (D28869, D28871) each show the same or a similar pose from a different angle, and they were perhaps made from life on the same occasion (perhaps, as Ian Warrell has suggested, in an academic Life Class),2 as opposed to the many apparently imaginative bedroom figure scenes elsewhere in this book.
For a discussion of the improvisatory and often erotic nature of the watercolour studies making up most of this sketchbook, see the Introduction.
There is a slight continuation of the watercolour onto the unaccessioned recto of folio 54 opposite (its verso being D28869). The unaccessioned recto of the present leaf is inscribed in red ink ‘53’ and stamped ‘CCXCI(b) – 53’.

Matthew Imms
May 2014

1
Finberg 1909, II, p.935.
2
See Warrell 2003, p.28.

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