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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A Reclining Nude Woman with her Legs Drawn Up c.1833

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
A Reclining Nude Woman with her Legs Drawn Up c.1833
Turner Bequest CCCXLI 232
Chalk, gouache and watercolour on grey wove paper, 100 x 142 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom centre
Stamped in black ‘CCCXLI – 232a’ (sic) bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Ian Warrell has linked Tate D33942–D33945 (Turner Bequest CCCXLI 231, 231v, 232, 232v) as ‘Studies of a female nude on grey paper’, connecting them to similar small, divided-up sheets used in Austria in 1833. He compares the use of red and white chalks to the technique of a sequence of studies of a male nude in the Life Class (2) sketchbook of the later 1830s1 (Tate D27482–D27513; Turner Bequest CCLXXIX b 2–33).
See also the figure studies in chalks on pages washed in grey in the Whalers sketchbook of about 1845 (Tate D35256–D35258; Turner Bequest CCCLIII 17, 18, 19), particularly D35256.
This is the most overtly erotic of the four studies noted initially. Warrell describes the ‘blushing pink tone of female flesh ... created with a smear of gouache. Turner’s viewpoint ... is especially lewd, giving emphasis to the darkness of the woman’s vagina’.2 The hazy white marks around the figure suggest bedclothes; compare the treatment of the figure in Tate D32236 (Turner Bequest CCCXVIII 17), a bedroom scene associated with Turner’s time in Venice in 1840.3
Finberg’s 1909 Inventory is unclear at this point, listing only ‘232. A female figure. Red and white chalk’.4 The present work is stamped ‘CCCXLI – 232a’, while a second sheet (D33945) is stamped ‘CCCXLI – 232 b’, albeit numbered in Tate’s database system as CCCXLI 232v.
Warrell 2003, p.25.
See ibid., p.26.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1075.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘cccxli – 232a’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘A Reclining Nude Woman with her Legs Drawn Up c.1833 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, February 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-reclining-nude-woman-with-her-legs-drawn-up-r1184326, accessed 20 June 2024.