Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘Dido Directing the Equipment of the Fleet’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and pen and ink on paper
Support: 143 × 195 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLX 7

Catalogue entry

Along with three technically similar blue paper drawings (Tate D20818, D24844, D24846; Turner Bequest CCXXVII a 15, CCLX 8, 10) this is a preliminary study for Turner’s 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 While Finberg had recognised the subject of D20818,2 the remaining three, possibly sight unseen, had been grouped with blue paper subjects ‘mostly connected with “French River” series’,3 having been displayed in that context in the nineteenth century. As acknowledged by Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, Jerrold Ziff was the first to recognise the subject of the current work and D24844;4 with their figures and quite elaborately articulated architecture, the two variations are the most developed of the four.
For general comments on the subject and Andrew Wilton’s remarks on the four drawings as related to Turner’s own early drawings and his ‘Old Master’ models,5 see the Introduction to this subsection.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.149–50 no.241, pl.243.
See Finberg 1909, II, p.700.
Ibid., p.806.
See Ziff 1980, p.169, and Butlin and Joll 1984, p.149; see also Butlin 2001, p.43, and Warrell 2002, p.195.
Wilton 2006, p.79.
Technical notes:
The tonal areas at the left, which have possibly become discoloured, were worked with white chalk details, and chalk is used extensively in the sky and its reflection, and to emphasise one or two details within the ink outlines.
Blank; yellowish ?offsets of wash from another sheet. Inscribed in pencil ‘CCLX – 7’ bottom centre.

Matthew Imms
July 2016

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