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Turner exhibited this picture at the Royal Academy in 1828. Despite its title, it is not an illustration to The Decameron, a collection of tales by the Italian poet, Boccaccio. Instead, Turner uses the idea of Boccaccio telling one of his tales as a pretext for painting a group of leisured figures in the style of the eighteenth-century French painter, Antoine Watteau. Turner is also referring to the work of Thomas Stothard, who had illustrated the Decameron in 1825, and who was well known for his clever pastiches of Watteau.

September 2004