Joseph Mallord William Turner

Nude Figure Study


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 94 × 74 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIV 1 a

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned to the right is the first of three studies of female nudes in this sketchbook, probably drawn in connection to Turner’s role as Visitor to the Royal Academy Schools to supervise the life drawing class (see folio 3 verso; D25529). This figure is shown from the front with her arms raised as if drying her hair. Faint lines in the drawing indicate that Turner changed the position of the figure as he was drawing it.
The inscription at the top of the page refers to an address, ‘104 Bricklane, Shoreditch’, in London’s East End. Number 104 is not listed in the Post Office Trade Directory of 1841, suggesting that it was at that time a private residence, although it may not have been in 1831. The other inscriptions may also be addresses, but are hard to decipher because they have been abbreviated. At the very top of the page ‘43 L In’ could plausibly stand for 43 Lincolns Inn, which in 1814 was described in a survey as ‘Mr Ord’s house’,1 and later became part of the Royal College of Surgeons. The significance of these addresses is not clear.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

W. Edward Riley and Sir Laurence Gomme (editors), ‘No. 43, Lincoln's Inn Fields (Royal College of Surgeons): floor plans’, British History Online, accessed September 2009,; see also W. Edward Riley and Sir Laurence Gomme (editors), ‘Lincoln's Inn Fields Nos. 39 to 43 (Royal College of Surgeons)’, British History Online, accessed September 2009,

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