Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for a Picture of the Parting of Hero and Leander

c.1799–1805

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Medium
Chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 271 x 436 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D04959
Turner Bequest LXXXI 57

Catalogue entry

This study was made with the page turned horizontally. The subject was not executed until the large painting The Parting of Hero and Leander – from the Greek of Musaeus, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1837 (National Gallery, London, on loan to Tate, L01408).1 Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll speculate that it was begun in Rome in 1828;2 at all events, its gestation was a long one.
The motif of the receding staircase and classical city by the sea, present in this sketch, survived into the final work though in all details and indeed in atmosphere it was transformed. A rough sketch from 1798 that may adumbrate the subject is in the Academical sketchbook (Tate D01827; Turner Bequest XLIII 11).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

1
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.221–2 no.370, pl.374 (colour)
2
Ibid., p.221.

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