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

Joseph Mallord William Turner Head and Shoulders of an Officer; ?Lieutenant Lewis Roatley, Royal Marines 1805

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 27 Recto:
Head and Shoulders of an Officer; ?Lieutenant Lewis Roatley, Royal Marines 1805
D05470
Turner Bequest LXXXIX 20
Pencil on white wove paper, 184 x 114 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘20’ bottom left, descending vertically
Stamped in black ‘LXXXIX 20’ bottom left, descending vertically
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Presumably a participant in the Battle of Trafalgar, the subject cannot be identified for certain. Turner’s picture Battle of Trafalgar, as Seen from the Mizen Starboard Shrouds of the Victory (Tate N00480;1 see Introduction to the sketchbook for the picture and related works) does little to individualise the features of even its main characters, although they are identified in the accompanying key (Tate, D08266; Turner Bequest CXXI K). However, it should be noted that the only men in the picture to wear uniform hats are officers of the Royal Marines, Lieutenant Lewis Roatley (or Roteley) (standing at the back of the group behind the wounded Nelson and number 11 in the key) and Lieutenant Lewis Reeves (standing in the centre foreground and number 18). Turner’s sketch shows a young man, and Roatley was twenty and Reeves nineteen at the time of Trafalgar. As Reeves was badly wounded (though not so dangerously as to be taken off at Gibraltar) and Roatley unscathed, the latter is the likelier candidate. For a sketch possibly of the same man, see folio 28 verso (D05473; Turner Bequest LXXXIX 21a).

David Blayney Brown
March 2006

1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.46 no.58 (pl.68).

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘Head and Shoulders of an Officer; ?Lieutenant Lewis Roatley, Royal Marines 1805 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, March 2006, 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-head-and-shoulders-of-an-officer-lieutenant-lewis-roatley-r1139280, accessed 30 October 2014.