Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Seated Woman Embracing a Standing Child


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 89 × 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLIV a 58 a

Catalogue entry

This drawing is inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation. While the child wears a simple calf-length garment, the woman is dressed in flowing robes or a cloak, and wears an elaborate hat or plumed helmet. She is possibly intended as a mythological figure. Whether Turner drew the subject from posed models in costume, from imagination or from a work by another artist has yet to be established.
Although the figures do not correlate precisely, there is possibly a connection with the group in Turner’s Liber Studiorum subject Woman and Tambourine, where a helmeted woman, probably Athena/Minerva, sits supporting a dancing child, perhaps Eros/Cupid; see the entry for the watercolour study of about 1806–7 (Tate D08103; Turner Bequest CXVI B), engraved in 1807 (Tate impressions: A00915, A00916). If there is a link, this study may be a little earlier than the broad range given here, covering the contents of the sketchbook datable by other criteria.

Matthew Imms
September 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop