Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study of a Figure in the Pose of the Dying Gaul


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk and gouache on paper
Support: 282 × 385 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest V K

Technique and condition

This image has been drawn using black and white chalk on buff-grey laid wrapping paper, of the type used by students at the Royal Academy during this period. The paper colour arises from the inclusion of colour rags when it was made, and it has faded. The top left-hand corner of the recto is missing. Prior to conservation the bottom right-hand corner of the recto had been reattached using pressure-sensitive tape stuck to the verso of the sheet, which has caused staining and discolouration of the paper in this area.
There is an area of loss on the right-hand side of the top edge of recto. There are also various small nicks and tears around the edges of the paper. Oil-based stains are visible on the recto on both the left-hand edge near the top of the paper and on the middle of the top edge of the paper. On the verso is a light, unfinished pencil sketch of the same subject.

Helen Evans
August 2009

Revised by Joyce Townsend
February 2011

Catalogue entry

Finberg listed this drawing as a study made in the Plaister Academy. The figure is in the pose of the Dying Gaul or Dying Gladiator, a third-century BC Hellenistic bronze known from a Roman marble copy in the Capitoline Museum, Rome; but it does not correspond to the antique original in many respects. At the same time, with its relatively puny physique it does not seem to represent any of the models customarily employed at the Academy. Compare the slight sketch on the verso (D40216), which is even more like a study from the life.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower suggests that the paper of this sheet is similar in type to Tate D00062 (Turner Bequest V I).

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

Read full Catalogue entry

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