Joseph Mallord William Turner

Groups of Figures


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCIV 22

Catalogue entry

Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, there are three rapidly sketched groupings of figures across the top half of the page. They each appear to comprise three main figures, with the central one including two women; it is possible that the same figures are shown in each case, in successive stages of some task. They appear to be observed from life rather than being ideas for compositions such as the classical scenes earlier in the book (see under folio 1 verso; D17774).
On the left two kneeling figures crouch down towards an object or container which they may be raising or lowering; in the centre are the backs of two women, perhaps seated on the ground, with the legs and torso of a man standing beside them; and on the right, three standing figures are gathered, one of them stooping. Their action may be explained by the effectively illegible word inscribed at that point.
Technical notes:
John Ruskin’s customary red ink page number at the corner beside the later stamp is not readily apparent here, although those on other leaves of this sketchbook are generally very faint.

Matthew Imms
November 2014

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop