Life drawings on separate sheets are rare in Turner’s mature career, when he tended to use sketchbooks for the purpose. Among few other examples are four perhaps made while abroad in 1833 (Tate D33939–D33941, D33969; Turner Bequest CCCXLI 228, 229, 230, 254). The present drawing and Tate D17161 (Turner Bequest CXCV a K), a similar small sheet with a faint variation on the upper figure, are here assigned to about 1818 on account of the draft text on the verso of the present sheet (D40302), for a speech perhaps delivered in that year.
These two studies show the same nude woman from the back and the side, seated with her legs tucked up and leaning on her right elbow. The pose appears identical in each case, suggesting it was held for some time, likely at a life class at the Royal Academy. Compare for example three studies of a single standing model from different angles in the Richmond Hill; Hastings to Margate sketchbook, in use around 1816 (Tate D10418, D10420, D10422; Turner Bequest CXL 5, 6, 7). The Academies sketchbook of the previous decade contains the largest concentration of such direct pencil studies; compare also the later Life Class (1) book (Tate; respectively Turner Bequest LXXXIV, CCLXXIX a).