Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Supine Male Nude, Seen Foreshortened


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk on paper
Support: 271 × 436 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXI 31

Catalogue entry

This drawing was made with the page turned horizontally. Compare the nude studies, presumably made from the same model, on folios 11 recto and 12 recto (D04922, D04924; Turner Bequest LXXXI 21, 23). A figure in an apparently similar pose appears in the rough study on folio 25 verso (D04950; Turner Bequest LXXXI 48), which is possibly an idea for ‘The Death of Adonis’, a subject noted by Turner on folio 27 verso (D04954; Turner Bequest LXXXI 52). However, this drawing of a sharply foreshortened male nude seems to have been used as the basis for a figure in the painting The Destruction of Sodom, which Turner probably showed in his own gallery in 1805 (Tate N00474).1
There are other studies for that painting on folios 14 recto and 15 verso (D04928, D04931; Turner Bequest LXXXI 27, 30); see also under folio 3 recto (D04906; Turner Bequest LXXXI 5). There is a strong resemblance between the pose of this figure and that of one of the dead sons in the 1760 painting by Richard Wilson (1713–1782), The Destruction of the Children of Niobe (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven), which Turner knew well from William Woollett’s famous print of 1761, if not from the original.2 For another example of the possible influence of Wilson’s Niobe on Turner, see folio 36 recto (D04971; Turner Bequest LXXXI 69).
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.
See David Solkin, Richard Wilson: The Landscape of Reaction, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1982, pp.200–1.
Technical notes:
The page is discoloured from exposure. The same number, ‘222’, is inscribed on folio 13 recto (D04926; Turner Bequest LXXXI 25), which was also extracted for exhibition.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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