J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Curtained Bed, with a Man and Woman Embracing c.1834-6

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 2 Recto:
A Curtained Bed, with a Man and Woman Embracing c.1834–6
Turner Bequest CCXCI b 2
Watercolour, chalk and pencil on white wove paper, 77 x 101 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘2’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCXCI(b) – 2’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The criss-cross pattern of watercolour strokes on the right suggest a patterned curtain. Without the pencil and reddish chalk work the figures would barely be suggested by the rough washes alone, and it is a moot point whether Turner intended the watercolour shapes as figures in this juxtaposition or read them as such retrospectively. Raphael Rosenberg sees them as having been developed out of fortuitous irregularities in the original washes.1 There appears to be a couple reclining on a bed, the man supporting the woman against his chest with his left arm enfolding her; the top of an upward brushstroke is outlined to suggest a knee drawn up. The chalk shapes above and to the left of the couple remain obscure.
For a discussion of the improvisatory and often erotic nature of the watercolour studies making up most of this sketchbook, see the Introduction.
See Rosenberg 2007, pp.327–8 note 51.
Blank, save for offsetting and very slight continuation of watercolour from folio 3 recto opposite (D28793).

Matthew Imms
May 2014

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘A Curtained Bed, with a Man and Woman Embracing c.1834–6 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 2014, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, September 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-curtained-bed-with-a-man-and-woman-embracing-r1149022, accessed 26 January 2022.