J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

Joseph Mallord William Turner Chryses 1805

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 5 Verso:
Chryses 1805
D06187
Turner Bequest XCVIII 5a
Pen and ink and touches of brown wash on white laid paper, 117 x 182 mm
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This is a variant of the composition set out in pencil and ink and wash versions on folios 3 verso and 4 of the sketchbook (D06184, D06185) and, as Hill observes, the closest to Turner’s watercolour Chryses (private collection) exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1811.1 It does, however, lack the figure of the priest Chryses himself. See especially note to 3 verso for the subject from Homer’s Iliad and folio 5 (D06186) for its likely relationship to others in the book including Ulysses and Polyphemus, drawn on the other side of the present leaf. Finberg’s suggestion that the subject here is Glaucus and Scylla must have originated from John Ruskin’s remarks in his endorsement for the sketchbook (see Introduction and below), and from the similarity of the composition to that subject in Turner’s Liber Studiorum (see especially Tate D08170; Turner Bequest CXVIII P). The setting of a bay with arched rocks is common to both Chryses and Glaucus and Scylla and shared the same sources including pictures by Claude Lorrain; for further comment see notes to the Studies for Pictures: Isleworth sketchbook (Tate D05588; Turner Bequest XC 61a).2 Turner used a different arrangement of arched rocks for Ulysses Deriding Polyphemus – Homer’s Odyssey (National Gallery, London),3 exhibited in 1829.
The wash marks on this leaf have spread across the gutter of the book from another facing page, but apparently not from folio 6 (D06188), suggesting that the contents have been rearranged or a leaf has been removed. Ruskin’s comment in his endorsement, noting ‘Glaucus & Scylla on the back of Polyphemus study [that is, the recto, D06186], which is cut out for Marlb.[orough] H[ouse]’, must be evidence of this. However, there is no record of the recto being exhibited separately.

David Blayney Brown
July 2008

1
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.356 no.492.
2
For further possible sources for both subjects see Andrew Wilton and Rosalind Mallord Turner, Painting and Poetry: Turner’s ‘Verse Book’ and his Work of 1804–1812, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1990, p.142.
3
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.183–5 no.330 (pl.331).

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘Chryses 1805 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, July 2008, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-chryses-r1130371, accessed 25 December 2014.