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 28 a

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned upside down relative to the foliation, Turner has divided the sheet to accommodate five separate pencil sketches of classical compositions. Clockwise from the top left is a drawing of what could be a pastoral scene, a hillside and trees framing figures in between and a vista beyond. In the top right drawing a bridge and trees are represented with a towered building and arched monument either side, probably a river view. Beneath this drawing is a more elaborate, worked up sketch of what seems to be a classical harbour scene. Figures congregate beneath porticoes on one side of the water’s edge, the curve of a sail can be seen in the middle of the drawing with the profile of a towered monument in the distance and the sun high in the sky. Trees and more figures seem to people the right side of the composition. Below this, at the bottom right of the sheet, is what appears to be an interior scene. Columns, a balustrade and the steps towards an arched passageway can be made out. There is also a group of reclining figures, perhaps a statue on a pedestal, at the right. The final drawing, the largest of the group, may be related to the previous composition: a classical interior scene with figures.

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2013

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