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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner List of Subjects from Ovid's 'Metamorphoses' (Inscriptions by Turner) 1805

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 55 Verso:
List of Subjects from Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ (Inscriptions by Turner) 1805
Turner Bequest XC 55a
Inscribed by Turner in pencil (see main catalogue entry) on off-white wove paper, prepared with a grey wash, 150 x 258 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner’s inscriptions read ‘Latona and the Herdsmen | Phaeton’s Sisters | Pan & Syrinx | Salamacis and Hermaphroditus’. These subjects are from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and relate to a group of drawings in this sketchbook for which see note to folio 54 (D05575); they are probably not only applicable to folio 56, as Hill implies, and indeed he also identifies this last drawing as Latona and the Herdsmen. For Phaeton’s Sisters see folio 54 verso (D05576) and Pan and Syrinx folio 55 (D05577). Salmacis and Hermaphroditus belong to Book 4 of the Metamorphoses. The youth Hermaphroditus strips to bathe in a woodland pool and Salmacis, overcome with desire, flings herself upon him. Their union is made permanent in a fusion of their physical attributes. As Nicholson observes,1 the subjects of Pan and Syrinx and Salmacis and Hermaphroditus are complementary, representing sexual desire respectively from the male and female point of view.

David Blayney Brown
August 2007

Nicholson 1990, p.149.

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘List of Subjects from Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ (Inscriptions by Turner) 1805 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2007, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-list-of-subjects-from-ovids-metamorphoses-inscriptions-by-r1129893, accessed 17 October 2019.