Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study of the Venus de’ Medici


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk and gouache on paper
Support: 392 × 264 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest V G

Technique and condition

This is an early drawing completed by Turner when he was a teenaged student at the Royal Academy. The drawing is tentative and has none of the fluidity of later works. The buff coloured, laid paper is typical of the type used by Academy students at this time. In this instance, it has lost colour owing to light exposure.
The outline of the figure was drawn first. The shading in black was then completed and finally the white highlights were added last. The background has been drawn using diagonal strokes of chalk that have then been rubbed together to create a solid body of colour. The use of horizontal hatching to create areas of shade is something Turner did throughout his career.
The extensive shading on this drawing confirms that Turner was right-handed.
There is brown staining in the top right-hand corner of the recto; this is also visible from the verso. There is some blue pigment, probably offset from another sheet, in the bottom right-hand quarter of the verso.

Helen Evans
August 2008

Revised by Joyce Townsend
February 2011

Catalogue entry

Compare the study of the Vatican Meleager in this series (Tate D00062; Turner Bequest V I), which uses a similar technique. There is an offset of this drawing on Tate D00196 (Turner Bequest XVIII A). For the Venus and other studies of it in this series see Tate D00059 (Turner Bequest V F).
Technical notes:
Peter Bower notes that the sheet is perhaps from the same batch as Tate D00067 (Turner Bequest V O), from this series of studies.
Blank; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

Read full Catalogue entry

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