Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies for Classical Compositions


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 257 × 178 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCII 26 a

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned upside down relative to the foliation, Turner has divided the sheet to accommodate what appears to be three separate pencil sketches of classical compositions: two occupy the bottom register and one large drawing stretches across the middle and into the upper register.
The sketch at the bottom left seems to depict shipping, Turner using a form of pictorial shorthand to summarise the barest forms of the vessels in a few simple lines. To the right of this is a more elaborate sketch: an arched bridge connects the right side of the composition peopled by a small assemblage of figures to the left where a tall tree stands. Above both of these drawings is a large composition featuring a number of arched monuments, buildings, columns, trees, and figures which indicate a classical city of some sort.

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


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