Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Group of Figures; Composition Study for ‘Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc’

c.1799–1805

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 271 × 436 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D05060
Turner Bequest LXXXI 158

Catalogue entry

Drawn with the page turned horizontally, the figure study is in pen and brown ink, and seems to show the Biblical angel leading Lot and his daughters out of Sodom. A further angel is roughly indicated in black chalk at the top right. The Destruction of Sodom (Tate N00474)1 was one of the large–scale historical paintings on which the artist was working at this time; it was probably exhibited at his own gallery in 1805. Another study of Lot and his family is on folio 14 recto (D04928; Turner Bequest LXXXI 27); see also folio 15 recto (D04930; Turner Bequest LXXXI 29).
At right angles, and inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, to the left of the figures is a composition study in chalks for the large watercolour of about 1805, Lake of Geneva, with Mont Blanc from the Lake (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven);2 compare the similar view on folio 81 recto opposite (D05061; Turner Bequest LXXXI 159). There are several other such studies in this sketchbook; see under folio 8 verso (D04917; Turner Bequest LXXXI 16).
1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.44 no.56, pl.66.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.342 no.370, reproduced.
Technical notes:
A large piece at the bottom right corner relative to the figures has been torn out and made good with similar modern paper.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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