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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Vignette Study for 'The Expulsion from Paradise', for Milton's 'Poetical Works' c.1834

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Vignette Study for ‘The Expulsion from Paradise’, for Milton’s ‘Poetical Works’ circa 1834
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 118
Pencil and watercolour, approximately 112 x 82 mm on board, 235 x 159 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘118’ bottom right
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘CCLXXX’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 118’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Jan Piggott has identified this small vignette as a study for The Expulsion from Paradise circa 1834 (currently untraced),1 a watercolour illustration which Turner produced for Egerton Brydges’s edition of The Poetical Works of John Milton, published in 1835.2 The design, which was engraved by Edward Goodall to accompany ‘Paradise Lost’ in Book XI, depicts Adam and Eve being sent from the gates of paradise by a sword-bearing angel.3 In the background is a lush, dense forest bathed in a hazy light, with the viewer’s eye being drawn into the distance by the pale ribbon of a meandering river.
The study confirms the basic details of the final composition. The landscape, including the tall palm trees framing the scene, has been established with light watercolour washes whilst the figurative detail has been added in pencil. The artist has left the lightest areas, the sun and the river, as blank forms on the paper. The delicate brushwork and soft palette convey the ethereal, dream-like quality of the scene.
The work is one of three watercolours in Tate’s collection associated with Milton’s Poetical Works (see also Tate D27614, D27597; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 97, 80, and Tate T06500).
Andrew Wilton, The Life and Work of J.M.W. Turner, Fribourg 1979, no.1266.
Piggott 1993, p.96.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, 1913, no.600. There is one impression in Tate’s collection (T06631).
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘AB 82 P | M’ bottom left, descending left-hand edge and ‘D27635’ bottom centre

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

How to cite

Meredith Gamer, ‘Vignette Study for ‘The Expulsion from Paradise’, for Milton’s ‘Poetical Works’ c.1834 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2006, 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-vignette-study-for-the-expulsion-from-paradise-for-miltons-r1133859, accessed 26 May 2024.