Joseph Mallord William Turner

Groups of Figures, Possibly Related to Benjamin Robert Haydon’s ‘Raising of Lazarus’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 162 × 98 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCV 28 a

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, the upper half of the page is occupied by various figure studies. At the top left is one nondescript figure, possibly in a hat; at the top right there seem to be a seated woman with a figure reaching forward beyond.
The central and largest group is more problematic, with a figure seated on the ground before a standing figure in flowing drapery, facing left to a second figure apparently gesticulating with its left arm raised, giving the presumably inadvertent effect of some form of tall, pointed headgear. The image is disrupted by mottled watercolour offsetting from opposite page, and the immediate context of watercolour landscape studies and views around Old London Bridge offers no clue as to the situation. In fact, there may be a connection with The Raising of Lazarus (Tate N00786), the very large oil painting of 1821–3 by Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786–1846), of which Turner made a thumbnail sketch on folio 1 recto (D17834). The juxtaposition and general aspect of the foreground and right-hand figures bear some resemblance respectively to the kneeling woman and Christ in Haydon’s painting, while the figure on the left could be a recollection or development of Haydon’s Lazarus raising his shroud, albeit face-to-face with Christ rather than at a distance.
Technical notes:
Particularly towards the gutter, there is some watercolour offsetting from folio 29 recto opposite (D17885).

Matthew Imms
December 2014

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