Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Reclining Nude Woman with a Male Companion

c.1833–40

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Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 89 x 183 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D34917
Turner Bequest CCCXLIV 422

Catalogue entry

At second glance, it becomes clear that the clearly defined nude woman reclining with her leg drawn up is not alone, and that she and a male companion are engaged in sexual activity. Ian Warrell has described the subject as ‘little more than a day dream’, comparing the perfunctory, focused anatomical treatment to the subsidiary study in the rather earlier Tate D40020 (Turner Bequest CCCLXV A).1 Compare also Tate D08342 (Turner Bequest CXXII 37) in the Finance sketchbook and Tate D27447 (Turner Bequest CCLXXIX a 45a) in the Life Class (1) book.
Warrell suggests that the present drawing, on a rough scrap of coarse paper likely manufactured in the late 1820s (see the technical notes), was perhaps made during one of Turner’s Continental tours between 1833 and 1840, accounting for the German inscription in another hand mentioning Basel in Switzerland.2
1
Warrell 2003, p.26.
2
See ibid.
Technical notes:
There are two parallel vertical creases. Ian Warrell has noted that the paper was made by Bally, Ellen and Steart,1 coming from a batch which paper conservator Peter Bower suggests as watermarked 1827 or 1829.2
1
Referenced extensively in Peter Bower, Turner’s Later Papers: A Study of the Manufacture, Selection and Use of his Drawing Papers 1820–1851, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1999.
2
Ibid.
Verso:
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘pfo no 95’ centre left.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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