Joseph Mallord William Turner

Studies, Probably for ‘Dido Directing the Equipment of the Fleet’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 366 × 226 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII a 8

Catalogue entry

The upper half of this sheet contains two slight studies of classical architecture, trees and shipping which probably relate to the large painting Dido Directing the Equipment of the Fleet, or The Morning of the Carthaginian Empire, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1828 (Tate N00506);1 see the Introduction to this subsection for the subject and other studies.
Despite the lack of precise correlation with the finished design, the association is made here on the basis that the sheet Turner used is a printed circular (confined to the other side, Tate D40314) dated to November 1827 and sent to him through the post; the painting was shown in the following spring and was presumably being planned at this time. Compare the more detailed studies on the back of an exactly contemporary letter, numbered consecutively with this one in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory (D25522; Turner Bequest CCLXIII a 7).
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.149–50 no.241, pl.243.
Technical notes:
The drawings are somewhat rubbed and darkened, and there are numerous small incidental nicks and tears, as well as a small hole at the top centre where the sheet, a letter as noted above, was opened at its seal, the remains of which are evident at the corresponding point above the bottom edge.

Matthew Imms
July 2016

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