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Turner shows several figures in a graveyard. Two girls are dancing on a tombstone to a fiddler's tune. Turner's use of such a motif in this context is a telling allusion to Time and the contrast between Life and Death. Through it, Turner links himself to a tradition of graveyard meditations which embraces Edward Young and Thomas Gray (no.48). With Turner, as with Blake (see no.49), the way this tradition could inform the Romantic sensibility and even touch life itself can be seen in both artist's associations with Westminster Abbey. In a 1793 watercolour of the interior of the Abbey, Turner's signature is put as an inscription on a floor slab as though it is his own tombstone.

August 2004