Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies of Figures, at ?Terni


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 186 x 110 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXXVII 44 a

Catalogue entry

The majority of this page is devoted to nineteen studies of various female and male figures, with accompanying notes on costume and colour. Despite the rough and free manner of these drawings, Turner has nevertheless managed to convey a considerable sense of character, particularly in the ample lady at the top with the large bonnet, the priest-like figure in profile on the right-hand side and the man riding a donkey in the centre. There are also a couple of back views of women wearing a distinctive type of folded cloth headdress. These garments, which Samuel Rogers described as ‘flat as a tile’,1 were characteristic of peasant women, or contadine, and were a popular subject for artists painting Italian genre scenes, see for example, Charles Eastlake’s painting, Italian Scene in the Anno Santo, Piilgrims Arriving in Sight of Rome and St. Peter’s Evening 1827 (Philadelphia Museum of Art).2 The social assortment of people represented here indicates that Turner must have been sketching within a fairly large urban centre and the geographical location suggested by the position of the page within the sketchbook suggests that this might have been the town of Terni. Other figure studies can be found on folios 1 (D14653) and 40 verso (D14731).
At the top of the page are two slight sketches of buildings within a mountainous landscape. The location has not been identified but they probably depict views on the road between Spoleto and Terni, see folios 43 verso–44 (D14737–8). At the bottom of the page, near the spine of the sketchbook is part of sketch which has spilled over from the opposite sheet, see folio 45 (D14770).

Nicola Moorby
November 2008

J.R. Hale (ed.), The Italian Journal of Samuel Rogers, London 1956, p.273.
Reproduced in Imagining Rome: British Artists and Rome in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Michael Liversidge and Catharine Edwards, exhibition catalogue, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery 1996, fig.13.

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