Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Curtained Bed, with Figures ?Watching a Naked Woman


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 79 × 101 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCI c 38

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, the bright form on the left may be a curtained bed, as in many other compositions in this book. In the dark to the right, there seems to be at least two shadowy figures. Either by a series of very light brushstrokes or by a fortuitous cluster of marks (or perhaps a combination of the two), there appears to be the pale form of a naked woman sitting on the bed. This reading becomes more convincing if she is the object of the others’ attention. The subject on folio 37 verso (D28936) may show a different aspect of such a scene; compare also the apparently voyeuristic subject on folio 32 verso (D28926).
For a discussion of the improvisatory and often erotic nature of the watercolour studies making up most of this sketchbook, see the Introduction.
Technical notes:
The unaccessioned, blank recto is numbered in red ink ‘38’ and stamped ‘CCXCI(c) – 38’; it bears slight watercolour offsetting from folio 37 verso (D28936).

Matthew Imms
May 2014

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