Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study of the Venus de’ Medici

?1792

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Medium
Chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 374 x 267 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D00059
Turner Bequest V F

Catalogue entry

The Medici Venus is, like the Belvedere Apollo (see, in this series of studies, Tate D00056–D00058; Turner Bequest V C–E), a definitive example of classical Greek sculpture of the fourth century BC. The original, executed in marble, originally with added colour to enhance its realism, has been attributed to Praxiteles; the most famous extant copy is the first-century BC marble in the Uffizi, Florence. Another full-length study by Turner in this series is D00060 (Turner Bequest V G); see also D40233 (Turner Bequest XVIII A [verso]) and the verso of the present sheet (D40214).
When he was in Rome in 1828, Turner made a rapid outline study in oils (Tate N05509)1 of a figure similar to that of the Venus de’ Medici, or the closely related Venus Pudica (a late fourth-century work, the earliest extant version of which is in the Capitoline Museum, Rome); Butlin and Joll suppose that since the figure differs from the original in certain respects, Turner drew it from memory.
1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.175 no.298, pl.300.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower points out that this sheet is possibly a drawing paper.1

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

1
Note in Tate catalogue files.

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