Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Curtained Bed, with a Naked Woman Reclining, Perhaps with a Companion

c.1834–6

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour and graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 77 × 101 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D28794
Turner Bequest CCXCI b 4

Catalogue entry

In the dark space apparently between bed curtains, the light appears to catch the hip, back and shoulders of a woman lying on her side. A substantial pillow seems to be propped up to the right, but whether the strokes beyond her or arching over her from the right indicate a companion remains open to interpretation.
For a discussion of the improvisatory and often erotic nature of the watercolour studies making up most of this sketchbook, see the Introduction.
No doubt entirely fortuitously, there is an echo of Turner’s intimate image in the curtains and pose of Reclining Nude, a 1942 painting by Victor Pasmore (1908–1998), who was a great admirer of Turner’s more ‘abstract’ work (Tate N05975).1
1
See for example Alastair Grieve (ed.), Victor Pasmore: Writings and Interviews, London 2010, pp.25, 145 note 31.
Verso:
Blank, save for offsetting and very slight continuation of watercolour from folio 5 recto opposite (D28795).

Matthew Imms
May 2014

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