Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Soldiers Talking

c.1796–7

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Chalk and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 347 x 243 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D00721
Turner Bequest XXIX P

Catalogue entry

The soldiers are depicted in Roman armour, with plumed helmets and a shield ornamented with a head, perhaps that of the Gorgon Medusa. There is no suggestion, however, that this illustrates the Perseus legend or any other specific story. It is, as Chumbley and Warrell point out, a Romantic study in the tradition of Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) and John Hamilton Mortimer (1740–1779), whose follower Charles Reuben Ryley (c.1752–1798) Turner admired and whose works he collected. C.F. Bell1 thought that the subject might have been copied from Mortimer. As in the companion sheet Tate D00720 (Turner Bequest XXIX O), the monogram seems to be intended as the artist’s signature to an achieved drawing. Compare also the pencil outline of a helmeted head on Tate D41458 (Turner Bequest XXXII Av).
The verso is D40248.

Andrew Wilton
April 2012

1
MS note in Tate catalogue files.

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