Joseph Mallord William Turner

Four Sketches in the Plain of Paestum, Including Studies of Peasants


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 189 x 113 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 18

Catalogue entry

As indicated by Turner’s handwritten inscription, these sketches represent views in the Plain of Paestum, between the Cilento mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea (for Paestum). Turner travelled to Paestum (‘Pesto’ is the modern Italian name) approximately twenty miles south-east of Salerno, in order to visit the site of three famous ancient temples, see folio 19 verso (D15945). For similar studies and a description of the route see folio 30 (D15966; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 28).
A couple of the scenes feature figures in the foreground including a group of men and women carrying tools, and a man ploughing with a team of oxen. The shaky, uncertain appearance of the draughtsmanship suggests that the artist was drawing from a moving vehicle or vessel.

Nicola Moorby
July 2010

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