Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies Made in the Louvre: Two Composition Studies Based on Claude; Figure Studies


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 123 × 118 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLVIII 19 a

Catalogue entry

Arriving in Paris as part of his 1821 tour of northern France, Turner took the opportunity to make his second visit to the Louvre. (He first visited the museum in 1802; see the Studies in the Louvre sketchbook: Tate D04275–D04390; D41518; Turner Bequest LXXII). While there he dedicated four pages of the present sketchbook to copies and variations of paintings, mainly by Claude Lorrain (1600–1682) whom he had omitted from his studies during his previous visit: further sketches are on folios 20, 32 verso and 34 (Tate D24537, D24561, D24564; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 19a, 20, 32a, 34). He also made sketches of the interior of the museum: folio 20 verso (Tate D24538; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 20a). On the recto of the present page is a sketch that may also be a variation of a painting seen by Turner in the museum (Tate D24535; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 19).
The present page contains two sketches in the compositional manner of Claude. At the top is a classical harbour scene, not identified as being based on any particular painting by the French artist, but designed in his manner. Ian Warrell has noted that the main building in this image utilises the columns recorded on D24538. The second sketch is a variation of Claude’s painting Landscape, with Samuel Anointing David, 1643 (Musée du Louvre), which Turner copied on the opposite sketchbook page (D24537). The distant setting, however, is based on a view down the Seine valley at Saint-Cloud which Turner visited during this journey: see folio 3 verso (Tate D24505; Turner Bequest CCLVIII 3a).1 The inscription ‘Prodigal Son’ may be the proposed title for this semi-original design.
Across the bottom half of the page there are three studies of groups of figures, perhaps taken from a painting. The top group includes at the centre a figure that appears to be anointing another crouched figure. The group at the bottom right of the page is labelled ‘Mort de Taffe’.

Thomas Ardill
February 2013

Ian Warrell, Turner Catalogue Files, Tate, CCLVIII 19a; Jerrold Ziff, ‘Copies of Claude’s Paintings in the Sketch Books of J.M.W. Turner, Gazette des beaux-arts, vol.65, January 1965, pp.57, 58.

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