Joseph Mallord William Turner

Group of Peasants


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 198 × 163 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXVIII 17

Catalogue entry

Some time in 1857, Ruskin removed this leaf from the sketchbook to exhibit the drawing at Marlborough House and then at the National Gallery, together with folio 18 (D04816). As ‘Studies of Swiss Costume’ they were wrongly placed in the display devoted to works of Turner’s ‘Third Period, from about 1823’. The sketchbook was subsequently rebound with this leaf reversed, the original recto becoming the verso as currently described, and facing folio 18. When exhibited or reproduced together since, the two drawings, similar in character and finish and with similar but not contiguous ruled lines in pencil, have appeared as if they were a single subject on a double-spread, though originally they were not. This study, of six figures, is slightly more finished and uses a wider range of watercolour, including a bright yellow not present in the other study.
Selborne notes the presence of a girl in a white blouse and skirt and red bodice similar to those depicted here in Turner’s watercolour Bonneville, Savoy painted in 1817 (on the London art market in 2007).1 There is also a similar figure and costume in the perhaps rather earlier watercolour View from the Castle of St Michael, Bonneville, Savoy (also on the London art market in 2007).2
Recto (formerly bound as Verso):
Blank, save for a brush-mark in red wash and splashes of blue-grey and brownish washes; and inscribed probably by John Ruskin, in red ink at left lower corner ‘157’. A further inscription in pencil ‘LXXVIII 17’ has been erased

David Blayney Brown
October 2009

Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, p.345 no.400; Sotheby’s sale, London, 4 July 2007, lot 8.
Ibid., p.343, no.381; Sotheby’s sale, London, 4 July 2007, lot 13.

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