Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘Dido and Aeneas’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 171 × 262 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XCIII 5

Catalogue entry

Dido and Aeneas (Tate N00494)1 was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1814 but probably painted earlier. For the picture and subject, see especially catalogue note to the coloured study in the contemporary Studies for Pictures: Isleworth sketchbook (Tate D05520; Turner Bequest XC 21).
The present study in ink and monochrome wash anticipates both coloured version and picture, closely enough to suggest that Turner chose it in preference to a variant composition study in the Wey, Guildford sketchbook (Tate D06182; Turner Bequest XCVIII 2). At upper left, Turner has drawn the points of the compass, presumably as a guide to the position of Carthage and the dawn lighting effects required for the picture. When he painted it, he showed the light rising on the left.
See also folio 4 verso and 5 verso–7 (D05773, D05775–D05778 ) for other figure studies which have been associated with the picture.

David Blayney Brown
October 2007

Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.92–3 no.129 (pl.135).

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