Joseph Mallord William Turner
Breton Peasants Dancing c.1826–8

Artwork details

Breton Peasants Dancing
Date c.1826–8
Medium Watercolour, gouache and pen and watercolour on paper
Dimensions Support: 132 x 190 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLIX 197
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

During his travels Turner was always interested in the distinctive qualities of local dress, occasionally making it a separate area of study. As well as this subject, there are sketches of the decorative headwear worn by Breton ladies in Turner's sketchbooks. The lively and humourous group in this work are caught in a celebratory dance, the image acting as a kind of snap-shot of traditional Breton life, much like the images tourists continue to appreciate. The second half of the 1820s was a period when Turner was particularly concerned with figure subjects, both in his oil paintings and his watercolours, although contemporary critics sometimes derided his efforts.

September 2004