Joseph Mallord William Turner

Vignette Study for Moore’s ‘The Epicurean’; The Descent of Alciphron into the Well


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 237 x 159 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 124

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).
The work appears to be an experimental study for Moore’s fantastical prose tale, The Epicurean. Jan Piggott has identified the subject as the hero, Alciphron, descending into a well in pursuit of the elusive Priestess of the Moon.1 Turner later translated this rather hazy colour composition into a more detailed version of the same subject (see Tate D27646; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 129).
Piggott 1993, p.96.
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘AB 82 P | M’ lower left, descending left-hand edge

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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