Joseph Mallord William Turner

?A Falling Figure, Possibly Satan

c.1810

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 187 x 115 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D18524
Turner Bequest CCX a 41

Catalogue entry

As discussed in the introduction, most of the drawings in this book are rapid figure studies, many of which are explicitly erotic; others may be similar in intent, but are difficult to make out, and may be of classical or biblical subjects. Here the intention and orientation of the sketch are unclear, with what may be a male figure falling headlong with arms outstretched; the wing-like forms emanating from the shoulders might suggest an angel or a mythical creature. Finberg tentatively interpreted part of Turner’s effectively illegible inscription, possibly a quotation, as the Biblical ‘Fall of Satan’ from Heaven.1 The subject on folio 6 verso (D18485; CCX a 4a) appears to be related.
This page appears always to have been the verso, although Finberg cites it as page ‘41’ without his usual ‘a’ suffix to indicate its being so. The number is stamped on the recto, along with John Ruskin’s ‘41’ in red ink.

Matthew Imms
January 2012

1
See Luke 10:18; and Revelation 12:9.

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