Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Figures; and a View of Vietri


Not on display
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 x 189 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 45 a

Catalogue entry

Turner often made studies of people whom he observed during the course of his travels. This page contains eight distinct figure drawings featuring men and women in local Italian dress. These include a person carrying a basket of goods on their head, a woman with a head scarf, a man in striped trousers with a bundle of sticks, and a monk in a cowled robe. The artist has added brief colour annotations to some of the sketches, as well as a note which suggests that the man on the far right-hand side is carrying the skin of a dog under his arm. It is not clear what the unusual architectural structure on the left hand-side might be. Turner often recorded ethnic and native costumes which he observed during his European travels, for example, see the Scotch Figures sketchbook (Tate, Turner Bequest LIX) and the Swiss Figures sketchbook (Tate, Turner Bequest LXXVIII).
At the bottom of the page is a landscape which Turner has inscribed ‘Vietri [sul Mare]’, a town on the coast to the immediate west of Salerno. This precise view has not been conclusively identified but it may represent the nearby village of Raito on the slopes of Monte Falerio above Vietri sul Mare.

Nicola Moorby
July 2010

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