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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Two Figures 1809

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 59 Recto:
Two Figures 1809
Turner Bequest CXIII 59
Pencil on white wove paper, 83 x 114 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘59’ top left, inverted
Stamped in black ‘CXIII 59’ top left, inverted
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Woman is Doubtful Love’ top left
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Drawn with the sketchbook inverted. The inscription by these two figures, who seem to be attempting an awkward embrace, comments on the fickleness of female affections. Turner’s supposed relationship with the musician’s widow, Sarah Danby, is dated to 1809 and her niece Hannah became his housekeeper at Queen Anne Street around the same time. However, there is no evidence that his equivocation here is connected or that either woman is the model for the life studies in this sketchbook; see Introduction.

David Blayney Brown
August 2009

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘Two Figures 1809 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2009, 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-two-figures-r1135900, accessed 24 September 2020.