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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