Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figures in Elizabethan Costume


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 96 × 59 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXV 55 a

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned to the left are three sketches of figures in costumes which Finberg has described as Elizabethan.1 The top two figures wear wide-brimmed hats, short capes and stockings, and the bottom figure wears a thick dark jacket with a high collar and a feathered cap.
There are further sketches of figures in fancy costume elsewhere in this sketchbook including studies on folios 54 verso and 56 (D25740, D25743) that are of the same style and presumably made at the same time, and figures in similar costumes on folios 43 verso–44 (D25721–D25722). (See folio 57; D25745 for full references). These may have been made at a fancy dress ball, a play, fete or parade. It is interesting to note that it was around this time that Turner took a particular interest in the work of Rembrandt and van Dyck, and painted pastiches of their work, including Lucy Countess of Carlisle, and Dorothy Percy’s visit to their Father Lord Percy, exhibited 1831 (Tate N00515),2 which feature figures in period costume.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Finberg 1909, II, p.852.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.190–91 no.338.

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