Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Study for ‘The Goddess of Discord Choosing the Apple of Contention in the Garden of the Hesperides’


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 32 a

Catalogue entry

For The Goddess of Discord Choosing the Apple of Contention in the Garden of the Hesperides exhibited at the British Institution in 1806 (Tate N00477),1 see especially folio 1 verso of the sketchbook (D05767), and 28 verso (D05813) for a further series of probable variant sketches of which this is one. Here, there is a standing figure similar to one on folios 31 verso and 33 verso (D05819, D05823) and a preliminary sketch of a related composition, probably the first of this sequence if Turner was working backwards through the book, is on 34 verso (D05825). Finberg suggested that the present sketch and 33 verso might represent Diana and Actaeon, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and Nicholson describes this as the ‘most overtly violent of Turner’s Ovidian drawings ...the death of Actaeon’, with ‘a stag being torn apart by hounds’; noting the lack of a completed painting of the subject she conjectures that ‘the savagery of Actaeon’s punishment remained too extreme for him to commit to bring to finished form’. However, the landscape setting and general composition seem to fit with The Goddess of Discord and the sketches are probably early ideas for it, although Turner might briefly have considered other narrative for it.

David Blayney Brown
October 2007

Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.44–6 no.57 (pl.67).

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