Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study of the Apollo Belvedere


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk and gouache on paper
Support: 461 × 300 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest V C

Catalogue entry

There is an offset of this drawing on another sheet from this series (Tate D00067; Turner Bequest V O). Other studies of the Apollo are Tate D00057, D00058 and D40218 (Turner Bequest V D, E, O [verso]). A black chalk study of the statue, with the face retouched in ink, probably by another hand, is among the artist’s papers in a private collection. The Apollo Belvedere was perhaps the most admired of all the classical sculptures in the Vatican collections in Rome. Like the Borghese Fighting Gladiator (for which see in this series Tate D00069 and D00070; Turner Bequest V Q, R) it was discovered at Antium on the coast of Latium. A Roman copy in marble of a Greek original, its prototype was considered by John Flaxman to have been the work of Phidias. It represents the god Apollo in the act of firing the arrow that slew the Python, therefore, as Flaxman interpreted the work, as a deliverer from evil. It was this aspect of Apollo’s divine persona that Turner was to make the subject of an important picture shown at the Royal Academy in 1811, Apollo and Python (Tate N00488).1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.82 no.115, pl.119.
Technical notes:
This sheet was formerly mounted on white cartridge paper. It is now laid down on heavy museum tissue. The right side is irregularly torn.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

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