Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘An Old Oak’, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 268 × 362 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 16

Catalogue entry

This is a preparatory study for the finished vignette, An Old Oak, which was published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems, as the head-piece to a poem entitled ‘To an Old Oak’ (see Tate D27691; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 174). The composition of the study is similar to that of the finished vignette, although the tree itself is taller, narrower and far more verdant than the gnarled and twisted oak of the final design. At the base of the tree, Turner has faintly sketched in the forms of a building and a group of figures dancing in a circle. In translating the study into a finished drawing, he flattened the tree and pushed its branches sideward in order to create a horizontal composition. He also eliminated some of the foliage to draw attention to the group of boys climbing the branches.
The style and medium of this sketch are typical of Turner’s preparatory studies for Rogers’s Poems, which tend to be executed in pencil and light wash and are made on papers of similar type and dimensions.
Inscribed by unknown hands in red ink ‘715’ bottom left and in pencil ‘AB 117 P | M’ and ‘CCLXXX.16’ lower right

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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