Joseph Mallord William Turner

Commentary on Titian’s ‘Christ Crowned with Thorns’ (Inscription by Turner)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 128 × 114 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXII 51 a

Catalogue entry

See folio 52 of this sketchbook (D04340), for Titian’s picture and Turner’s copy. His remarks begun here (written with the book inverted) are concluded on the recto of this leaf (D04338); for convenience they are transcribed in full here.
This Picture is wholly different as to | effect the most powerful is the flesh | the drapery answers only to extend the light upon the soldier to the right, and | by being yellow keep up warmth | and mellow the flesh of Christ which | is the soul of the piece shrinking | under the force of the Brutal Soldier with | filial resignation. Yet with dignity he | appears to bear their insults while | the position of the legs indicate excessive pain and exertion to | sustain it | This on a greeny Brown | Ground Spanish Brown and Umber. The | flesh is thicker than the Entombment but | the same process. The Crimson drapery [continued on the recto] is only a wash (VR) – the green D is thicker | but Brown on [Finberg: over] it and the figure in Mail | in Black with lights. This figure keeps | the Picture from being monotonously Brown in | the Background which is the Broadest Shadow | thus is form’d the effect, as the other figs [Finberg: frs.] | have scatter’d lights and strong shadows. | The small piece of yellow causes with the | legs of Christ a preponderance of Light to the | left and the steps and the half light | the [Finberg: One] small piece of Blue is admitted | purely to give value to the warm color | by contrast and to check the Brown bnd [Finberg; ?background] by | putting it so far behind or rather protrude itself.

David Blayney Brown
July 2005

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