View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Jan Piggott has identified this small vignette as a study for The Expulsion from Paradise circa 1834 (currently untraced),1 a watercolour illustration which Turner produced for Egerton Brydges’s edition of The Poetical Works of John Milton, published in 1835.2 The design, which was engraved by Edward Goodall to accompany ‘Paradise Lost’ in Book XI, depicts Adam and Eve being sent from the gates of paradise by a sword-bearing angel.3 In the background is a lush, dense forest bathed in a hazy light, with the viewer’s eye being drawn into the distance by the pale ribbon of a meandering river.
The study confirms the basic details of the final composition. The landscape, including the tall palm trees framing the scene, has been established with light watercolour washes whilst the figurative detail has been added in pencil. The artist has left the lightest areas, the sun and the river, as blank forms on the paper. The delicate brushwork and soft palette convey the ethereal, dream-like quality of the scene.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘AB 82 P | M’ bottom left, descending left-hand edge and ‘D27635’ bottom centre
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