Joseph Mallord William Turner

Self-Portrait

c.1799

In Tate Britain

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 743 × 584 mm
frame: 985 × 820 × 110 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
N00458

Display caption

Turner painted this self-portrait in around 1799 when he was 24 years old. He possibly intended to mark his election as an Associate of the Royal Academy. This was an important moment in his career. It meant he could exhibit his works in the Academy without fear of rejection by any members of the committee. Despite his young age, Turner had already made a name for himself as an original, accomplished painter with great technical skill.  
This self-portrait features on the £20 note issued by the Bank of England in March 2020. 

Gallery label, July 2020

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Catalogue entry

25. [N00458] Self-Portrait c. 1798

THE TATE GALLERY, LONDON (458)
Canvas, 29 1/4 ×23 (74·5 ×58·5)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856 (92, ‘Portrait of J.M.W. Turner’ 2'5" × 1'11"); transferred to the Tate Gallery 1910.

Exh. National Portrait Exhibition 1868 (94); Tate Gallery 1931 (13); Venice and Rome 1948 (1, repr.); R.A. 1974–5 (B1, repr. as frontispiece); Leningrad and Moscow 1975–6 (88).

Lit. Thornbury 1862, i, pp. 45, 63; ii, p. 320; 1877, pp. 25, 36, 42, 392, 419; Hamerton 1879, p. 38; Armstrong 1902, pp. 28–9, 227, repr. facing p. 8; MacColl 1920, p. 2; Davies 1946, p. 187; Rothenstein and Butlin 1964, p. 76, pl. 1; Herrmann 1975, p. 225, pl. 1.

Datable c. 1798 for reasons of style and the age of the sitter.


Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984

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