43. [N05490] Diana and Callisto c. 1796
THE TATE GALLERY, LONDON (5490)
Canvas, 22 1/4 × 36 (56·5 × 91·5)
Coll. Turner Bequest 1856; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1951.
Lit. Davies 1946, p. 159; Gage 1974, p. 72, pl. 15.
This is a copy or variant of Richard Wilson's much repeated composition (see W.G. Constable, Richard Wilson 1953, pp. 164–5, pls. 23a and b, 24a.). John Gage has suggested that, as it is closest in certain details to J. Wood's engraving of 1764 of a picture described as being in the collection of Henry Hoare (repr. Gage, op. cit., pl. 14), it reflects Turner's knowledge of the original, which he could have seen at Stourhead. However, a version by Wilson still in the Hoare collection (but unknown to Gage when he wrote his article) is in the reverse direction to both the engraving and to the Turner and differs in several particulars from both (as Constable points out, neither the dimensions nor the format of Wood's engraving match those of the Wilson still in the Hoare collection). Turner is as likely, therefore, to have worked from the engraving as from the painting.
Nevertheless, in so far as one can tell from the dirty and damaged condition of the Turner, it is crudely enough handled to justify Gage's dating of c. 1796, some two years earlier than Turner's most Wilsonian period. The main damages are in the sky and in the tree on the left. The painting is now (1984) being restored.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984
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