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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Study for 'Dido Directing the Equipment of the Fleet' ?1827

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Study for ‘Dido Directing the Equipment of the Fleet’ ?1827
Turner Bequest CCXXVII a 15
Ink and chalk on blue wove paper, 142 x 191 mm
Inscribed in red ink ‘15’ bottom right (smudged)
Stamped in black ‘CCXXVII (a) 15’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
As Finberg recognised,1 along with three technically similar blue paper drawings (Tate D24843, D24844, D24846; Turner Bequest CCLX 7, 8, 10), this is a preliminary study for Turner’s large painting Dido Directing the Equipment of the Fleet, or The Morning of the Carthaginian Empire, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1828 (Tate N00506).2 For general comments on the subject and Andrew Wilton’s remarks on the four drawings as related to Turner’s own early drawings and his ‘Old Master’ models,3 see the Introduction to this subsection.
Finberg listed the sheet along with those in ink and chalk on blue paper showing East Cowes Castle on the Isle of White, where Turner stayed with John Nash in the late summer of 1827, and Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll have suggested this drawing was made there,4 which seems likely to be the case with all four. The turret to the left of the tree has more of the air of Nash’s mock-medieval ‘castle’5 than the elaborate classical architecture of the 1828 painting; compare the similar effect in D24846, another relatively simple drawing among the four variations.
Finberg 1909, II, p.700; see also Butlin and Joll 1984, p.149, Butlin 2001, p.43, Warrell 2002 p.195, and Wilton 2006, p.79.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.149–50 no.241, pl.243.
Wilton 2006, p.79; see also Powell 2001, p.15.
See Butlin and Joll 1984, p.149, and Butlin 2001, p.43.
See also Warrell 2002, p.195.
Technical notes:
White chalk has been used sparingly, being limited to the sun (which seems to be indicated in two alternative positions), the immediate sky, and a rippling reflection.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘CCVII a.15 | Box 97’ (sic) bottom right.

Matthew Imms
July 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Study for ‘Dido Directing the Equipment of the Fleet’ ?1827 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, July 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, March 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-study-for-dido-directing-the-equipment-of-the-fleet-r1185819, accessed 14 June 2024.