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

Joseph Mallord William Turner Vignette Study for Moore's 'The Epicurean'; The Descent of Alciphron into the Well c.1837-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Vignette Study for Moore’s ‘The Epicurean’; The Descent of Alciphron into the Well circa 1837–8
D27641
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 124
Pencil and watercolour, approximately 105 x 60 mm on board, 237 x 159 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘124’ bottom right
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘CCLXXX’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 124’ 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).
The work appears to be an experimental study for Moore’s fantastical prose tale, The Epicurean. Jan Piggott has identified the subject as the hero, Alciphron, descending into a well in pursuit of the elusive Priestess of the Moon.1 Turner later translated this rather hazy colour composition into a more detailed version of the same subject (see Tate D27646; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 129).
 
1
Piggott 1993, p.96.
Verso:
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘AB 82 P | M’ lower left, descending left-hand edge

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

How to cite

Meredith Gamer, ‘Vignette Study for Moore’s ‘The Epicurean’; The Descent of Alciphron into the Well 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, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-vignette-study-for-moores-the-epicurean-the-descent-of-r1133840, accessed 20 September 2014.