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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Nude Studies and Erotica c.1805–24

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This brief section includes a sketchbook under the later, euphemistic title Academy Auditing (Turner Bequest CCX a), most of which was filled in about 1810 with erotic sketches of couples and groups of figures with loosely mythological connotations. Although erotic material is scattered sparsely through the Turner Bequest, Academy Auditing comprises the largest concentration of such pencil studies; only the often equally vague watercolours in the Colour Studies (1) and (2) sketchbooks (Tate; Turner Bequest CCXCI b and c, addressed in the ‘Erotica and Improvisations c.1834–6’ section) are comparable in their extent and focus. The three separate sheets here include one of unambiguously erotic scope from the late 1800s or early 1810s (D40020; Turner Bequest CCCLXV A, and its verso, D40021), and two academic life drawings (D17161, D17162; Turner Bequest CXCV a K, L), perhaps from a little later to judge from the draft of a speech on the back of one of them. See also the ...
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Academy Auditing sketchbook c.1810–24
D18479, D18481, D18483–D18524, D40743
Turner Bequest CCX a 1–41
D17161, D17162, D40020, D40021, D40302
Turner Bequest CXCV a K, L, CCCLXV A
This brief section includes a sketchbook under the later, euphemistic title Academy Auditing (Turner Bequest CCX a), most of which was filled in about 1810 with erotic sketches of couples and groups of figures with loosely mythological connotations. Although erotic material is scattered sparsely through the Turner Bequest,1 Academy Auditing comprises the largest concentration of such pencil studies; only the often equally vague watercolours in the Colour Studies (1) and (2) sketchbooks (Tate; Turner Bequest CCXCI b and c, addressed in the ‘Erotica and Improvisations c.1834–6’ section) are comparable in their extent and focus.
The three separate sheets here include one of unambiguously erotic scope from the late 1800s or early 1810s (D40020; Turner Bequest CCCLXV A, and its verso, D40021), and two academic life drawings (D17161, D17162; Turner Bequest CXCV a K, L), perhaps from a little later to judge from the draft of a speech on the back of one of them.
See also the complementary ‘Nude Studies and Erotica c.1830–40’ section later in this catalogue.
1
See Ian Warrell, ‘Exploring the “Dark Side”: Ruskin and the Problem of Turner’s Erotica’, with ‘A Checklist of Erotic Sketches in the Turner Bequest’, British Art Journal, vol.4, no.1, Spring 2003, pp.5–46, and Ian Warrell, Turner’s Secret Sketches, London 2012.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Nude Studies and Erotica c.1805–24’, September 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, February 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/nude-studies-and-erotica-r1184401, accessed 20 October 2017.