Joseph Mallord William Turner

Five Sketches from Paintings by Claude Lorrain


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 469 × 330 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

The five works by Claude Lorrain (1604/5–1682) that Turner has rapidly noted here are:
1. Landscape with David and the Three Heroes (Röthlisberger 145)1 formerly in the Chigi collection, bought by Robert Sloane in 1802. Turner’s inscription ‘Alexander’ below it refers to an alternative title, Alexander Speaking to his Soldiers
2. Landscape with Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalen (Röthlisberger 194), in the Spada collection until bought by Sloane
3. Landscape with Philip Baptising the Eunuch (Röthlisberger 191; the pair to 194)
4. Parnassus (Röthlisberger 193) in the Colonna collection until bought by Sloane in about 1798
5. Landscape with Hagar and the Angel (Röthlisberger 133) in the collection of the Earl of Yarborough.
The pictures assembled by the banker Robert Sloane were brought to England in 1803–4 after his death in 1802, and Turner presumably made these studies at the Sloane sale, conducted in London by the auctioneer Peter Coxe on 2 June 1804. In 1799 Turner examined William Beckford’s own recently acquired Claudes, the pair of late canvases from the Altieri collection, at Beckford’s London house.2
The comments that Turner has written on the sketches refer to their former collections, to one of the protagonists, Alexander, in the first subject, and, in two instances, to the colour of the sky in numbers 2 and 4 respectively. His interest in these works did not signal the beginning of his admiration for Claude. Michael Kitson states3 that the first of his oil paintings to exhibit a debt to the seventeenth-century master was The Festival upon the Opening of the Vintage of Macon, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1803 (Museums Sheffield);4 in fact a still earlier work is plainly indebted to Claude, even though it is Claude seen through the medium of Richard Wilson (1713–1782): the painting Aeneas and the Sibyl, Lake Avernus of about 1798 (Tate N00463).5 As Kitson also notes,6 a large watercolour of 1799, Caernarvon Castle (private collection),7 is evidently based on the Claude seaport subjects that Turner saw in the Angerstein collection in the same year.
See Marcel Röthlisberger, Claude Lorrain: The Paintings, New Haven 1961.
See entry for 8 May 1799 in Kenneth Garlick and Angus Macintyre eds., The Diary of Joseph Farington, vol.IV, New Haven and London 1979, p.1219.
See Kitson 1983, pp.6–7.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.36–7 no.47, pl.55 (colour).
Ibid., pp.24–5 no.34, pl.50 (colour).
See Kitson 1983, p.5.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.328 no.254, pl.47 (colour).

Andrew Wilton
March 2013

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