Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘Captivity’, Rogers’s ‘Poems’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 254 × 340 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 10

Catalogue entry

This is a preliminary study for the finished watercolour vignette, Captivity, which was published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems as an illustration for a poem of the same name (see Tate D27704; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 187). Unlike many of Turner’s preliminary studies for Poems, this sketch shows an entirely different subject from the one that he finally chose to illustrate. Here, we see a young woman sitting alone in a straw filled dark cell. The bleak and dreary scene stands in stark contrast to the finished more colourful and detailed composition which shows the exterior of an elaborate prison, complete with drawbridge and moat. It is difficult to identify the reasons for Turner’s change of subject with any certainty, but it is possible that Rogers found the proposed scene of solitary suffering too dark for his taste.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘122 | a’ lower centre, inverted and ‘CCLXXX.10’ and ‘AB 144 P.O’ bottom right and ‘D.27527’ bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 10’ bottom left

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Read full Catalogue entry

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