Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘The Chaplet’ for Moore’s ‘The Epicurean’

c.1837–8

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 236 x 159 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D27634
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 117

Catalogue entry

This sketch belongs to a large group of preliminary studies which relate to Turner’s vignette illustrations for John Macrone’s 1839 edition of Thomas Moore’s The Epicurean, a Tale: and Alciphron, a Poem. The study shares the same size, palette, and style as nine other works in this group, suggesting that Turner produced them all at around the same time (see Tate D27630; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 113).
Jan Piggott has identified the subject as an experimental study for an alternative design of The Chaplet, circa 1838 (untraced),1 one of four vignettes that Turner produced for Moore’s fantastical prose tale The Epicurean.2 The finished watercolour, engraved by Edward Goodall, depicts Orcus, the evil High Priest of Memphis, forcing the heroine, Alethe, to wear a poisoned coral chaplet which will eventually claim her life.3 This theatrical sketch may represent an alternative version showing the dark figure of Orcus working his evil magic.
There are at least three additional studies for The Chaplet in the Turner Bequest, all of which bear closer resemblance to Turner’s finished composition (see Tate D27642, D27644, D27655; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 125, 127, 138).
1
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.456, no.1301.
2
Piggott 1993, p.96; Thomas Moore, The Epicurean, a Tale: and Alciphron, a Poem, London 1839, reproduced between pp.206–7.
3
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.637. There is one impression in Tate’s collection (T06625).
Verso:
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘AB 82 P | M’ bottom left, descending left-hand edge

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Read full Catalogue entry

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