Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies for Classical Compositions

c.1822–3

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 257 × 178 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17747
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

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