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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Curtained Bed, with a Naked Woman Reclining, Perhaps with a Companion c.1834-6

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 4 Recto:
A Curtained Bed, with a Naked Woman Reclining, Perhaps with a Companion c.1834–6
D28794
Turner Bequest CCXCI b 4
Watercolour and pencil on white wove paper, 77 x 101 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘4’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCXCI(b) – 4’ bottom right
 
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
In the dark space apparently between bed curtains, the light appears to catch the hip, back and shoulders of a woman lying on her side. A substantial pillow seems to be propped up to the right, but whether the strokes beyond her or arching over her from the right indicate a companion remains open to interpretation.
For a discussion of the improvisatory and often erotic nature of the watercolour studies making up most of this sketchbook, see the Introduction.
No doubt entirely fortuitously, there is an echo of Turner’s intimate image in the curtains and pose of Reclining Nude, a 1942 painting by Victor Pasmore (1908–1998), who was a great admirer of Turner’s more ‘abstract’ work (Tate N05975).1
1
See for example Alastair Grieve (ed.), Victor Pasmore: Writings and Interviews, London 2010, pp.25, 145 note 31.
Verso:
Blank, save for offsetting and very slight continuation of watercolour from folio 5 recto opposite (D28795).

Matthew Imms
May 2014

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘A Curtained Bed, with a Naked Woman Reclining, Perhaps with a Companion 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-naked-woman-reclining-perhaps-with-a-r1149024, accessed 26 January 2022.