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

Joseph Mallord William Turner Vignette Study of a Temple, with Rainbow, possibly for Moore's 'The Epicurean' c.1835-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Vignette Study of a Temple, with Rainbow, possibly for Moore’s ‘The Epicurean’ circa 1835–8
D27639
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 122
Pencil and watercolour, approximately 115 x 90 mm on white paper, 240 x 161 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘122’ bottom right
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘CCLXXX’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 122’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This loosely executed watercolour study appears to be a preliminary drawing for one of Turner’s literary vignettes; however, it is unclear to which project it is related. The study shows the dark silhouette of a temple set against a dramatically lit sky with a rainbow in the distance. Although the subject shown here does not relate directly to any of Turner’s published vignettes, Jan Piggott has suggested that it may be an illustration of the Necropolis at Alexandria, which features in Thomas Moore’s fantastical prose tale, The Epicurean.1
Although the dramatically contrasting palette and dark, opaque areas of paint are unusual features for Turner’s vignette studies, there are some similarities with another preliminary vignette study (see Tate D27638; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 121). Given the close relationship between these two works, it seems likely that Turner produced them both at around the same time and for the same project. The subject of this second sketch also remains uncertain although Piggott has suggested that it may be related to Lord Ullin’s Daughter, circa 1835 (National Gallery of Scotland), an illustration for Thomas Campbell’s Poetical Works (1837).2
1
Piggott 1993, p.96.
2
Piggott 1993, p.96.
Verso:
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, ‘Vignette Study of a Temple, with Rainbow, possibly for Moore’s ‘The Epicurean’ c.1835–8 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-of-a-temple-with-rainbow-possibly-for-moores-r1133854, accessed 01 April 2015.