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 27 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 or four separate pencil sketches of classical compositions: one large or possibly two small drawings occupy the bottom register and two small drawings stretch across the upper register.
At the bottom right three columnar structures can be made out followed by what appears to be a vessel. The diagonal pencil lines across it could indicate the pitch of oars held by figures within the boat. Beyond is a line of trees with figures dotted between them. A classical architectural form follows, possibly marking a docking area, with more shipping beyond.
At the upper register, from left to right, is an assemblage of what appear to be figures and boats with a rocky hillside, perhaps also rubble or ruins, in the background. More shipping follows; the upright, wind-blown sails of a brig are visible. The right of the sheet is sparsely filled, the faint impression of some arches barely visible.

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2013

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