Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘The Parting of Hero and Leander’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 97 × 154 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXLIV 103 a

Catalogue entry

This drawing is cited by Butlin and Joll as a preparatory study for the painting The Parting of Hero and Leander (National Gallery, London)1 exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1837. The correspondence is so close, especially on the right of the composition, as to suggest that the painting might have been begun about 1816, well before its exhibition. Indeed Butlin and Joll note a still-earlier idea for the subject in the Calais Pier sketchbook (Tate D04959; Turner Bequest LXXXI 57) and a possibly contemporary study on part of a letter addressed to Walter Fawkes (Tate D34924; Turner Bequest CCCLIV 427). Given that the present sketchbook was used to make a tour of Yorkshire from Fawkes’s home at Farnley Hall, it would appear that the idea for the composition was most fully developed at this time and in the Farnley context.

David Hill
January 2009

Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.221–2 no.370 (pl.374).

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