Joseph Mallord William Turner

Commentary on Titian’s ‘Woman with a Mirror’ (Inscription by Turner)

1802

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 128 × 114 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D04300
Turner Bequest LXXII 24

Catalogue entry

For Titian’s picture and Turner’s copy – and discussion of its theme and changing titles – see folio 25 of this sketchbook (D04301). Turner’s comments continue on folio 23 verso (D41518) but for convenience are transcribed here in full:
Titian and his Mistress | A wonderful specimen of his abilities as to natural color, | for the Bosom of | his Mistress is a piece of Nature in her | happiest moments. The Arm beauty | fully colour’d but rather heavy | and the Shadow perhaps too Brown | for the shadow of the Neck | which | appears to have been produced by | a body of grey colour over a rich | ground of the colours of the face strengthening [Finberg; then heighten’d] in the lights which are truly brilliant. The green drapery is glazd over a similar | color but the light really white as | they are cold (unlike the drapery of Joseph [continued on folio 23 verso] in the entombing of Jesus which has been | rather yellow’d first). The ground pervades | thro his Portrait and the red under is | Venetian and VR or Lake over his hands | are Bt. Sienna but her left hand is granulated | with minute colours and toucht with | brown and is not dependt. upon the ground | as the other parts of the picture, which | proves as well as the Hair over the white | drapery that he had some means of using | the ground colour as a Body or uniting | solid coloring with the ground although | I must confess I think it taken off | practically which gives the hand so | granite an appearance. The white drapery | is like this leaf but colder than the high | light a warm colour finely touch’d.
For Titian’s Entombment to which Turner refers here, and his copy, see folio 32 (D04315).
Verso:
Slight offsets of red and brown wash from folio 25 (D04301)

David Blayney Brown
July 2005

Read full Catalogue entry

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