by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851). c.1825–30. Oil on mahogany, 597 x 756 mm. Courtesy of Tate Britain (Accession no. NO5504. Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856.) Click on image to enlarge it.
Commentary from Tate Britain Online (2004)
Although possibly incomplete, the subject can be identified as Death, the last of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who announce the Day of Judgement (Book of Revelation). The choice may have been in response to the death of Turner’s father in 1829, suggested by the unusual treatment which is both tender and menacing. Death appears, not as a triumphant, upright figure astride his horse, but as a phantom emerging from a turbulent mist: his skeletal form, arms outstretched, and draped submissively over the horse’s pale back. Such disturbing visions were considered to embody the very concept of the Sublime.
Last modified 15 May 2016