Joseph Mallord William Turner ?Gleaners c.1805–7

Artwork details

From Hesperides (1) Sketchbook
Turner Bequest XCIII
Date c.1805–7
Medium Pen and ink on paper
Dimensions Support: 171 x 262 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XCIII 25 a
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Catalogue entry

See Introduction to the sketchbook and notes to the recto (D05802) and folio 22 verso (D05801) for its various studies of (mainly rustic) figures, their character and meaning; and especially folios 23 verso and 24 verso (D05803, D05805) for the subject, seen by Hill as a development of the present sketch if Turner was working backwards through the sketchbook. While Finberg and Hill differ in their interpretations of 23 verso and 24 verso, both agree that this is a scene of distress, in Hill’s words one of ‘desperate rural poverty’. These views must derive from the presence of a baby and the crawling, pleading gestures of some of the figures. However, a possible connection with a harvest at Cassiobury Park is mentioned in the catalogue note to 23 verso, and these figures might be gleaning.

David Blayney Brown
October 2007

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