Joseph Mallord William Turner



Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 743 × 584 mm
frame: 985 × 820 × 110 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

This self-portrait appears to date from around 1799 when Turner was about twenty-four years old. It was possibly intended to mark an important moment in his career, his election as an Associate of the Royal Academy. Despite his relative youth, Turner had already made a name for himself as an original, accomplished painter with the technical abilities of someone more mature. He had been described in the newspapers as an artist who ‘seems thoroughly to understand the mode of adjusting and applying his various materials’ and ‘their effect in oil or on paper is equally sublime’.

Gallery label, February 2010

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Catalogue entry

25. [N00458] Self-Portrait c. 1798

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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