Joseph Mallord William Turner

Warriors Climbing Rocks


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 135 × 95 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XL 13

Catalogue entry

These studies, which include details of the calf of a leg and a foot, one in pencil, the other overdrawn in black ink, may have been copied from a picture by Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) or some other painter of ‘Sublime’ subjects. Alternatively, and perhaps more probably, they may be related to a historical composition planned by Turner in about 1798. Compare the studies of struggling soldiers on folio 6 verso (D01472).
They may all be associated with a projected picture of ‘Hannibal showing his Army the Fertile Plains of Italy’, inspired by the work exhibited by John Robert Cozens (1752–1797) under that title at the Royal Academy in 1776.1 A pencil sketch on folio 69 recto (D01676; Turner Bequest XL 67) has been thought to embody a preliminary idea for the subject. Nothing immediately resulted from these tentative thoughts, but in due course he produced one of his most celebrated pictures, the Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army crossing the Alps, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1810 (Tate N00490).2

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

See Kim Sloan, Alexander and John Robert Cozens: The Poetry of Landscape, New Haven and London 1986, pp.109–11.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.88–90 no.126, pl.131 (colour).

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