Joseph Mallord William Turner

Composition Study: Figures beneath a Tree

c.1802–5

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Chalk on paper
Dimensions
Support: 436 × 271 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D04950
Turner Bequest LXXXI 48

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, this is probably a study for the projected composition of the mythical ‘Death of Adonis’; compare folio 27 verso (D04954; Turner Bequest LXXXI 52). Although no finished version of the subject appeared, there exists a small oil sketch of it in a very different format (Tate N05493).1
For a fuller discussion of Turner’s treatment of the Adonis theme see under folio 26 verso (D04952; Turner Bequest LXXXI 50), which has a more fully worked out idea for the picture. It shows clearly the influence of Titian’s painting of The Death of Peter Martyr, which Turner saw and commented on at the Louvre in Paris in 1802; see his Studies in the Louvre sketchbook (Tate D04306–D04308; Turner Bequest LXXII 27a–28, 28a).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

1
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.115 no.151, pl.157.

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