Joseph Mallord William Turner

Seated Figures ?on a Diligence


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 118 × 78 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXVI 152 a

Catalogue entry

Here Turner records three seated figures. At the uppermost register he pictures a woman wearing a long gown with an empire silhouette and slippers with ribbons tied around the foot and ankles. She sports a coiffure typical of the period: her hair is drawn up into a bun and curls fall over her ears. Below are two other figures sitting beside one another; Turner has rendered them in a more cursory manner. A female figure appears to be wearing a bonnet and holds an upturned umbrella or walking stick of some sort with a crook handle.
Though this is a rather speculative suggestion, the design of the seats upon which the figures rest seem similar to those furnishing diligence coaches of the time. Turner himself appears to have taken the sketch on this folio’s recto from the top deck of a diligence coach (see Tate D19858; Turner Bequest CCXVI 152), so it may be that these jottings of figures represent his fellow passengers as he travelled towards or from Ghent.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2014

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