Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study of the Bacchus of Sansovino


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk, gouache and graphite on paper
Support: 457 × 314 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest V N

Technique and condition

This is a double sided pencil drawing dating from Turner’s time as an art student at the Royal Academy. The buff-grey laid wrapping paper is typical of those used by Academy students of this period. The paper was coloured unevenly by the inclusion of coloured rags when it was made, and it has probably lost colour. On the recto Turner first sketched in the outline of the figure in pencil, then he added shading and highlights using black and white chalk. There has been some loss of the chalk. This was probably caused by the abrasion of the image against another surface.
Prominent foxing striations are visible across the verso of the paper. There are various tears around the edges of the sheet; the largest, in the top left-hand corner of the recto is approximately 120 mm long. The top and bottom right-hand corners of the recto are missing.
At some point tears in the paper were repaired using pressure-sensitive tape which degraded over time, and damaged the paper. The paper around the tape had also cockled. In 2008 the tape was removed and the tears were repaired again using toned Japanese tissue adhered in place with wheat starch paste.

Helen Evans
October 2008

Revised by Joyce Townsend
February 2011

Catalogue entry

Here, the two chalks have been used to create an unusually detailed study of the head of the figure. For another, more complete study of Jacopo Sansovino’s Bacchus (Bargello, Florence) see Tate D00065 (Turner Bequest V M).
The verso is D40217.
Technical notes:
The top right corner has been torn off, and the lower portion of the sheet cut away; there are several vertical tears at top and bottom of the sheet.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

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