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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Composition Study: Figures beneath a Tree c.1802-5

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 25 Verso:
Composition Study: Figures beneath a Tree c.1802–5
Turner Bequest LXXXI 48
Black and white chalks on blue laid paper, 436 x 271 mm
Watermarks ‘1794’ and Strasburg lily
Inscribed in pencil ‘48’ top right, upside down
Stamped in black ‘LXXXI–48’ top right, upside down
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, this is probably a study for the projected composition of the mythical ‘Death of Adonis’; compare folio 27 verso (D04954; Turner Bequest LXXXI 52). Although no finished version of the subject appeared, there exists a small oil sketch of it in a very different format (Tate N05493).1
For a fuller discussion of Turner’s treatment of the Adonis theme see under folio 26 verso (D04952; Turner Bequest LXXXI 50), which has a more fully worked out idea for the picture. It shows clearly the influence of Titian’s painting of The Death of Peter Martyr, which Turner saw and commented on at the Louvre in Paris in 1802; see his Studies in the Louvre sketchbook (Tate D04306–D04308; Turner Bequest LXXII 27a–28, 28a).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

Butlin and Joll 1984, p.115 no.151, pl.157.

How to cite

Andrew Wilton, ‘Composition Study: Figures beneath a Tree c.1802–5 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, April 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-composition-study-figures-beneath-a-tree-r1178154, accessed 12 August 2020.