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

Joseph Mallord William Turner Profile Study of the Head of a Woman wearing a Ruched Cap, Looking Down c.1794

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 35 Recto:
Profile Study of the Head of a Woman wearing a Ruched Cap, Looking Down c.1794
D00310
Turner Bequest XX 35
Pencil on white laid paper, 152 x 99 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘35’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘XX 35’ bottom right
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This drawing has generally been accepted as a portrait of Turner’s mother. It may be compared with a somewhat similar profile sketch in pencil and watercolour, now in a private collection,1 also known as ‘Turner’s mother’, but perhaps more plausibly a male portrait, conceivably Mr John Narraway of Bristol, and dating from about 1791–2. There is no strong evidence for believing the traditional identifications of these portrait studies; like the old woman in the watercolour exhibited in 1796, Internal of a Cottage, a Study at Ely (Tate D00729; Turner Bequest XXIX X),2 also at one time thought to be the artist’s mother, the model is more likely to have been observed by Turner on his travels.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

1
Andrew Wilton, Turner in his Time, London 1987, reproduced p.22.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.315 no.141, pl.25.

How to cite

Andrew Wilton, ‘Profile Study of the Head of a Woman wearing a Ruched Cap, Looking Down c.1794 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 2012, 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-profile-study-of-the-head-of-a-woman-wearing-a-ruched-cap-r1140703, accessed 22 July 2014.