Joseph Mallord William Turner

Profile Study of the Head of a Woman wearing a Ruched Cap, Looking Down

c.1794

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: 152 x 99 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D00310
Turner Bequest XX 35

Catalogue entry

This drawing has generally been accepted as a portrait of Turner’s mother. It may be compared with a somewhat similar profile sketch in pencil and watercolour, now in a private collection,1 also known as ‘Turner’s mother’, but perhaps more plausibly a male portrait, conceivably Mr John Narraway of Bristol, and dating from about 1791–2. There is no strong evidence for believing the traditional identifications of these portrait studies; like the old woman in the watercolour exhibited in 1796, Internal of a Cottage, a Study at Ely (Tate D00729; Turner Bequest XXIX X),2 also at one time thought to be the artist’s mother, the model is more likely to have been observed by Turner on his travels.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

1
Andrew Wilton, Turner in his Time, London 1987, reproduced p.22.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.315 no.141, pl.25.

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