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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Group of Figures, Possibly at a Rag Fair or at Reading c.1807-14

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 27 Recto:
A Group of Figures, Possibly at a Rag Fair or at Reading c.1807–14
Turner Bequest CXXII 27
Pencil on white wove paper, 69 x 112 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘R Fa[...]’ bottom right
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘27’ top left, upside down
Stamped in black ‘CXXII – 27’ top left, upside down
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
In this rough sketch, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, perhaps half a dozen figures are arrayed in the foreground, apparently reclining, seated and standing, while rough shapes above may indicate buildings beyond. Finberg’s tentative suggestion of a ‘rag fair’ (a market for old clothes and fabrics)1 may be correct, or the ‘R’ may stand for Reading, the Berkshire town; see under folio 24 verso (D08320) and compare the ‘Reading’ inscriptions there and on folio 26 verso opposite (D08324). The second word might alternatively be ‘Farm’, suggesting an agricultural scene, though ‘Fair’ is perhaps more likely.

Matthew Imms
September 2013

For London rag fairs see Barbara Brackman, ‘Fabric Retailing: The Rag Fair’, Material Culture, accessed 12 September 2013, http://barbarabrackman.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/fabric-retailing-rag-fair.html.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘A Group of Figures, Possibly at a Rag Fair or at Reading c.1807–14 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2013, 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-group-of-figures-possibly-at-a-rag-fair-or-at-reading-r1147801, accessed 03 April 2020.