Turner’s comments read:
Orpheus and Eurydice. | The sky rather heavy and of a leaden color | The Buildings a yellowish colour | but finely disposed the middle ground light | and the figures scattere’d and Eurydice | falsely lighted – and am inclined to think | that the red drapery of Orpheus and what is | on the tree (which is beautifully disposed) is too | dissimilar [Finberg: disimular] and distracts the majesty of the | whole composition which is fine (contrasted) the | inferior part is the left bank which | is unnaturally dark, unsuccessfully [Finberg: unusefully] so, for it | over balances all – and renders the right | Bank hard and crude, which for | want of richness renders the sky heavy | and the Painter thought to have | remedy’d this by the colouring of the Figures positively | but it here proves that strong colour’d figures | without proximity avail nothing.
Finberg identified Turner’s subject as ‘Poussin’s “Orphée et Eurydice: paysage”’. For Turner and the Louvre Poussins, see notes on folio 25 verso of this sketchbook (D04302). Like the Diogenes described there, this picture has a splendid landscape setting, this time with strong architectural elements including a smoking Castel Sant’Angelo. The subject is from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. At their wedding, Eurydice dies by a snake-bite and Orpheus follows her into the Underworld. Painted about 1650, the picture was acquired by Louis XIV in 1685.