Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figures ?Engaged in Sexual Activity

c.1810

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 115 x 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D18520
Turner Bequest CCX a 38 a

Catalogue entry

As discussed in the introduction, most of the drawings in this book are rapid figure studies, many of which are openly erotic; others may be similar in intent, but are difficult to make out, as here, where a man appears to draw a partly reclining woman towards him while a fragmentary figure looks on. Reading the composition as one figure supporting another and casting around for a more ‘legitimate’ subject among the explicit sketches, Finberg tentatively suggested ‘The Good Samaritan’, referring to Christ’s parable of the traveller who stops to help a wounded man.1
1
Luke 10:25–37, particularly verses 33 and 34.
Technical notes:
A subsequent leaf had been ‘cut out’1 by Finberg’s time. Whether it comprised figure studies of the sort filling the rest of the book is not recorded. As described in the introduction to the sketchbook, the leaf has since been made good with similar laid paper.
1
Finberg 1909, II, p.641.
Verso:
Blank

Matthew Imms
January 2012

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