Joseph Mallord William Turner Death on a Pale Horse (?) c.1825–30

Artwork details

Artist
Title
Death on a Pale Horse (?)
Date c.1825–30
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 597 x 756 mm
frame: 776 x 940 x 68 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
N05504
On display at Tate Britain

Display caption

Although possibly incomplete, the subject can be identified as Death, the last of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who announce the Day of Judgement (Book of Revelation). The choice may have been in response to the death of Turner’s father in 1829, suggested by the unusual treatment which is both tender and menacing. Death appears, not as a triumphant, upright figure astride his horse, but as a phantom emerging from a turbulent mist: his skeletal form, arms outstretched, and draped submissively over the horse’s pale back. Such disturbing visions were considered to embody the very concept of the Sublime.

March 2010

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