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J.M.W. Turner

10 of 43 portraits of J.M.W. Turner

Regency Portraits Catalogue

J.M.W. Turner

by John Phillip
circa 1850
12 1/8 in. x 9 3/8 in. (308 mm x 238 mm)
NPG 1717

Inscriptionback to top

Signed boldly but rather smudged lower right: J. Phillip.

This portraitback to top

The drawing was brought to the Gallery on 5 December 1913 by W. G. Rawlinson, a renowned Turner scholar, who had been in touch with the previous owner, the Rev A. E. Clementi-Smith, in 1886 (letter from Clementi-Smith to Cosmo Monkhouse in NPG archive). Rawlinson informed the Director that he understood it had been 'sketched in 1850 during the illness preceding Turner's death'. It was accepted by the Trustees as an authentic portrait of Turner and appeared in the NPG catalogues (illustrated in the 1932 edition) as such until the 147 edition where 'identity doubtful' was added to the entry. In later editions it has been relegated to the section of 'Unknown Sitters'. There is no firm evidence either way though the likeness is close enough to other authentic portraits to make the identification with Turner feasible enough, and can be strengthened by Phillip's intimacy with James Cassie, a keen admirer and collector of Turner watercolour drawings (Angela Weight, John Phillip R.A., Aberdeen, 1967, no.76).

Physical descriptionback to top

Head and shoulders profile to left, unkempt grey hair, long hooked nose, small chin; brown coat, greyish-blue shirt-frill.

Provenanceback to top

Rev A. E. Clementi-Smith (who knew nothing of its history), bought from him by W. G. Rawlinson ('many years before') and given by him to the NPG in 1913.

Exhibitionsback to top

Guildhall Loan Exhibition, 1899 (7) lent by W. G. Rawlinson; 'John Phillip R.A.', Aberdeen, 1967 (76).


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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