Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figures Carrying Goods and a Hand-Cart

1818

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

Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 99 x 159 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D13413
Turner Bequest CLXV 51

Catalogue entry

On this page are drawings of four figures, a cart and part of a building, all presumably connected to the sketch below of the High Street and Lawn Market (folio 52 verso; D13412; CLXV 50a) which extends slightly to the bottom right of this page. The scene on folio 52 includes a figure pushing a two-wheeled cart or barrow, and there is a similar cart on a related sketch in the Scotch Antiquities sketchbook (Tate D13701–D13702; Turner Bequest CLXVII 64a, 65), although not in Turner’s illustration of the scene for Scott’s Provincial Antiquities: Edinburgh High Street, circa 1818 (watercolour, Yale Centre for British Art).1
The figures are probably all women, judging by their bonnets and headscarves, and they are very much of the type that Turner used to populate his Edinburgh illustrations to the Provincial Antiquities, although only one – the figure turning to the left carrying a basket – is closely related to any particular figure in a finished design; she resembles the woman to the left of a group in the foreground to the right of the Edinburgh High Street design carrying a similar barrel-shaped basket on her back. The figures are all working women, presumably involved in the trade of the Lawnmarket. The upper most figure is wearing a headscarf which has been shaded in, above which Turner has inscribed the word ‘Red.’ At the left of the page is a slight sketch of the top of a building, presumably one near by.
There are similar studies of figures carrying baskets or sacks on their backs, and pulling a hand-cart in the Edinburgh, 1818 sketchbook (Tate D13578, D13579; Turner Bequest CLXVI 66a, 67).

Thomas Ardill
November 2007

1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.426 no.1061.

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