Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tivoli: Tobias and the Angel


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Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 905 × 1210 mm
frame: 1200 × 1510 × 120 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

The pair to 'The Arch of Constantine, Rome', also on this wall, this nearly completed canvas combines a Biblical episode with Italian scenery recollected from Turner's second visit to Rome in 1828.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

437. [N02067] Tivoli: Tobias and the Angel c. 1835


Canvas, 35 5/8 × 47 5/8 (90·5 × 121)

Coll. Turner Bequest 1856; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1949.

Exh. Arts Council tour 1952 (14); on loan to the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin, 1962–7; R.A. 1974–5 (488, repr. in colour p. 117); on loan to the National Museum of Wales 1975–85.

Lit. MacColl 1920, p. 35; Davies 1946, p. 155.

This picture and No. 438 [N02066], carried to the same degree of near-completion, probably arose out of Turner's second visit to Rome, developing compositions of the kind found among the sketches painted on coarse canvas in 1828 (see Nos. 302–17). The heavy impasto and rich colouring seem to parallel the treatment of various interior scenes associated with Petworth and thought to date from the mid 1830s (see Nos. 445–9) but the dating is very tentative (MacColl 1920, p. 34, dated them both 1840 or later).

Tivoli, a recurrent subject among Turner's Italian landscapes and one ultimately derived from Wilson (see Nos. 44 [N05512] and 545 [N05538]), is here made the setting for a Biblical subject paralleling that of Christ and the Woman of Samaria (No. 433 [N01875]). For a discussion of the topography see Alfred Thornton as reported by MacColl, loc. cit.

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984

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