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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Two Soldiers Talking c.1796-7

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Two Soldiers Talking c.1796–7
Turner Bequest XXIX P
Pencil, black chalk and watercolour on white wove paper, 347 x 243 mm
Inscribed by Turner in black chalk ‘WT’ lower right
Stamped in black ‘XXIX P’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The soldiers are depicted in Roman armour, with plumed helmets and a shield ornamented with a head, perhaps that of the Gorgon Medusa. There is no suggestion, however, that this illustrates the Perseus legend or any other specific story. It is, as Chumbley and Warrell point out, a Romantic study in the tradition of Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) and John Hamilton Mortimer (1740–1779), whose follower Charles Reuben Ryley (c.1752–1798) Turner admired and whose works he collected. C.F. Bell1 thought that the subject might have been copied from Mortimer. As in the companion sheet Tate D00720 (Turner Bequest XXIX O), the monogram seems to be intended as the artist’s signature to an achieved drawing. Compare also the pencil outline of a helmeted head on Tate D41458 (Turner Bequest XXXII Av).
The verso is D40248.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

MS note in Tate catalogue files.

How to cite

Andrew Wilton, ‘Two Soldiers Talking c.1796–7 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, April 2012, 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-two-soldiers-talking-r1140208, accessed 27 November 2015.