Joseph Mallord William Turner

Breton Peasants Dancing

c.1826–8

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Medium
Watercolour, gouache and pen and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 132 x 190 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D24762
Turner Bequest CCLIX 197

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.

Gallery label, September 2004

Explore