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Ruskin’s note notwithstanding, only the present drawing is certainly a composition study for Apollo and Python exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1811 (Tate N00488).1 Butlin and Joll suggest that the picture could have been painted ‘considerably earlier’ on technical grounds, and drawings of the subject or variants of it occur as early as in the Calais Pier sketchbook (Tate D04970, D04971; Turner Bequest LXXXI 68, 69). This sketch might be roughly contemporary with the majority of the drawings in the present book, or alternatively with two studies for the figure of Apollo in the Studies for Pictures: Isleworth sketchbook of about 1805 (Tate D05494; Turner Bequest XC 3), and another variant sketch in the contemporaneous Hesperides (1) sketchbook (Tate D05813; Turner Bequest XCIII 28a). See Introduction to this sketchbook for further comment on the dating of the historical studies.
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.82 no.115 (pl.119).