Up until a few years ago, biographies of both J.M.W. Turner and John Ruskin had claimed that, in 1858, Ruskin burned bundles of erotic paintings and drawings by Turner in a fit of embarrassed Victorian censorship, to protect Turner's posthumous reputation. Ruskin's friend Ralph Nicholson Wornum, who was Keeper of the National gallery, was said to have colluded in the alleged destruction. However, in 2005 these works, which form part of the Turner Bequest held at Tate Britain, were re-appraised by Turner scholar Ian Warrell, who suggested that Ruskin and Wornum did not destroy the sketches and that almost all of the allegedly destroyed drawings are in the Tate collection.
This lavishly illustrated book, the first exclusively devoted to Turner’s erotic work, examines in detail this little known aspect of the artist’s oeuvre. In his original essay, fully reproduced here, Warrell places the work within the context of Turner’s social and artistic milieu, contemporary preoccupations with art for public and ‘private’ consumption, and the details and intricacies of Turner’s life and output.
An essential addition to the canon of work on Britain’s most prolific and adored artist, this beautifully produced volume will be of interest to scholars, connoisseurs, and all Turner devotees.