Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Classical Arch and Tomb, Probably for ‘Apullia in Search of Appullus’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 88 × 113 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXV 63 a

Catalogue entry

The form of this classical arch corresponds with the one seen towards the bottom right of Turner’s large, mythological landscape painting Apullia in Search of Appullus (Tate N00495),1 exhibited at the British Institution in early in 1814, which is (superficially) a provocatively close variation on Claude Lorrain’s Jacob with Laban and his Daughters, then in the collection of Turner’s patron Lord Egremont (Petworth House, Sussex).2 Although the arch, one of Turner’s significant additions or changes, is now rather dark and difficult to make out in his painting, the correlation is clearer by comparison with the unpublished Liber Studiorum print of the subject (no impressions in Tate collection)3 or Frank Short’s later reinterpretation (Tate impression: T05059). In the engraved versions an inscribed tablet is apparent over the arch, flanked by prominent triglyphs as in the present sketch, although there does not seem to be a tomb at what is perhaps the least conspicuous point in the finished composition.
Further studies for details and the overall composition of the painting follow on folios 64 verso, 65 verso–66 recto, 66 verso–67 recto, 67 verso–68 recto and 68 verso (D09911, D09976, D09978, D09980–D09986). For a discussion of various other landscape and tree studies in this sketchbook in the contexts of the equally Claudian but original composition Crossing the Brook,4 the middle distance of which has affinities with Apullia, see under folio 14 recto (D09910).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.91–2 no.128, pl.134.
See ibid., p.92 and pl.567.
See Alexander J. Finberg, The History of Turner’s Liber Studiorum with a New Catalogue Raisonné, London 1924, pp.287–90 no.72, and Gillian Forrester, Turner’s ‘Drawing Book’: The Liber Studiorum, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1996, pp.133–4 no.72 ii, reproduced.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.93–4 no.130, pl.123 (colour).
Technical notes:
A small, circled spot of foxing at the top left shows through from the recto (D09975).

Matthew Imms
April 2014

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like