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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner ?Study for 'Caligula's Palace and Bridge' c.1831

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
?Study for ‘Caligula’s Palace and Bridge’ c.1831
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 156
Watercolour on white wove paper, 304 x 488 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Inscribed in red ink ‘156’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 156’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This pale, rather slight ‘colour beginning’ of structures overlooking a stretch of open water has been tentatively linked by Eric Shanes1 to the large, idealised painting Caligula’s Palace and Bridge, exhibited in 1831 (Tate N00512).2 The arrangement of buildings on the left is loosely comparable, but the similarity may be fortuitous.
Turner made small but quite detailed pencil drawings for the painting, heavily shaded to evoke the final contre-jour silhouetted effect, in the Kent sketchbook; see Tate D35768–D35769, D35815–D35816 (Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 6a, 7, 31 a, 32), so it may be that he made the present colour sketch to experiment with the general backlit effect.
See Shanes 1997, pp.98, 100.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.189–90 no.337, pl.339 (colour).
Technical notes:
Prominent brown staining affects the bottom right corner.
Blank; laid down.

Matthew Imms
August 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘?Study for ‘Caligula’s Palace and Bridge’ c.1831 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 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-study-for-caligulas-palace-and-bridge-r1184435, accessed 24 May 2024.