Catalogue entry

207. [N05503] An Artists' Colourman's Workshop c. 1807

Oil, 24 1/2 × 36 (62 × 91·5) on pine, 24 1/2 × 37 3/8 (62 × 95)
Inscr. ‘OLD MASTERS’ on book above door centre right and illegibly on vat lower left.
Coll. Turner Bequest (? 271, ‘1 (Panel’ 3'1 3/4" × 2'1"); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1947.

Exh. Tate Gallery 1982 (p. 43, repr.).

Lit. Davies 1946, pp. 161–2; Marks 1981, p. 345.

This unfinished painting was tentatively identified by Martin Davies as showing ‘The Faker's Studio (?)’. However, Stefan Slabczynski, former Keeper of Conservation at the Tate Gallery, has pointed out that the man in the centre is grinding red pigments on a marble slab while a horse-driven wheel is grinding colours more coarsely behind; the various jars and vats are filled with paints or media.

The picture was painted on three rough planks of pine, the back having been gouged out to take a crossbar, rather than on a specially prepared artists' panel. On each side, though not at top or bottom, there is a 3/4 in. strip of bare wood, without ground or paint, suggesting that there were framing members there when the picture was painted. It is probable, therefore, that Turner used part of a door or panelling for this work.

Though unfinished and a bit larger, the painting is close in style and technique to A Country Blacksmith exhibited in 1807 (No. 68 [N00478]). The Garreteer's Petition, exhibited two years later, already seems to be somewhat later in style (No. 100 [N00482]).

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984