Joseph Mallord William Turner

Women Resting among Trees, Perhaps by the River Thames; a Figure with a Boat

c.1823–4

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 162 x 98 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17907
Turner Bequest CCV 42

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, Turner depicts a trio of women kneeling, seated and reclining in a wooded setting. They may be bathers on the banks of the River Thames around Richmond upon Thames. There are identified views around there at the beginning of this sketchbook, and others at this end likely to be in the vicinity; see the Introduction.
The artist may have may have stumbled across the scene in the manner of the mythical Actaeon and Diana, and he was always ready to idealise the Thames Valley as a classical Arcadia, hence his calling the women ‘Wood Nymps’ [sic]; compare the bathers in the Hesperides (1) sketchbook of about 1805–8 (Tate D05831–D05832; Turner Bequest XCIII 37 a–38) and the related oil painting View of Richmond Hill and Bridge, exhibited in 1808 (Tate N00557).1 See also the fête champêtre scene inside the back cover (D40965).
Less poetically, below is a study of a figure wading out to manhandle a small boat.

Matthew Imms
December 2014

1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.56 no.73, pl.83.

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