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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Study for 'The Chaplet' for Moore's 'The Epicurean' c.1837-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Study for ‘The Chaplet’ for Moore’s ‘The Epicurean’ circa 1837–8
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 117
Pencil and watercolour, approximately 100 x 68 mm on board, 236 x 159 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘117’ bottom right
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘CCLXXX’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 117’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This sketch belongs to a large group of preliminary studies which relate to Turner’s vignette illustrations for John Macrone’s 1839 edition of Thomas Moore’s The Epicurean, a Tale: and Alciphron, a Poem. The study shares the same size, palette, and style as nine other works in this group, suggesting that Turner produced them all at around the same time (see Tate D27630; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 113).
Jan Piggott has identified the subject as an experimental study for an alternative design of The Chaplet, circa 1838 (untraced),1 one of four vignettes that Turner produced for Moore’s fantastical prose tale The Epicurean.2 The finished watercolour, engraved by Edward Goodall, depicts Orcus, the evil High Priest of Memphis, forcing the heroine, Alethe, to wear a poisoned coral chaplet which will eventually claim her life.3 This theatrical sketch may represent an alternative version showing the dark figure of Orcus working his evil magic.
There are at least three additional studies for The Chaplet in the Turner Bequest, all of which bear closer resemblance to Turner’s finished composition (see Tate D27642, D27644, D27655; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 125, 127, 138).
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.456, no.1301.
Piggott 1993, p.96; Thomas Moore, The Epicurean, a Tale: and Alciphron, a Poem, London 1839, reproduced between pp.206–7.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.637. There is one impression in Tate’s collection (T06625).
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘AB 82 P | M’ bottom left, descending left-hand edge

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

How to cite

Meredith Gamer, ‘Study for ‘The Chaplet’ for Moore’s ‘The Epicurean’ c.1837–8 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2006, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-study-for-the-chaplet-for-moores-the-epicurean-r1133836, accessed 14 December 2017.