Juliet and her Nurse

Juliet and her Nurse

By Kind Permission of Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery

Turner 's Juliet and her Nurse, oil on canvas, exhibited Royal Academy 1836, oil on canvas, exhibited Royal Academy 1836, Private Collection ( Wilton P365).

Ruskin saw Turner 's Royal Academy exhibits of 1836 as a turning point in the development of his art. In this painting, as in Mercury and Argus and Rome from Mount Aventine ( Wilton P366), he saw how 'the characteristics of his later manner were developed with his best skill and enthusiasm' ( Works, 35.217).

The criticism of these pictures in Blackwood's Magazine therefore outraged him all the more, and a detailed account of their merits formed a major part of the reply which he drafted, but did not submit. Realising that Turner 's 'freak in placing Juliet at Venice instead of Verona, and the mysteries of lamplight and rockets with which he had disguised Venice itself' ( Works, 35.217) had baffled the reviewer, Ruskin sought to explain how the artist's 'imagination is Shakespearian in its mightiness', and that 'many-coloured mists are floating above the distant city, but such mists as you might imagine to be aetherial spirits, souls of the mighty dead breathed out of the tombs of Italy into the blue of her bright heaven, and wandering in vague and infinite glory around the earth that they have loved' ( Works, 3.638).

The painting was bought, possibly on its original exhibition, by Hugh Munro of Novar. Ruskin 's knowledge of its apparent deterioration ('the ghost of what it was', MP I:134), by the time he revised Modern Painters I for the third edition, came from visits to see Munro's collection, as reported, for instance, in his diary for 13 April 1844 ( Evans and Whitehouse, Diaries 1, p.273).


J.M.W. Turner 1775-1851
Juliet and her Nurse 1836
Oil on canvas, 89x120.6cm
Exhibitions: RA 1836 (73); New York 1966 (14); Paris 1983-4 (62, repr. In colour)
Engraved by G. Hollis, 1842
Copper engraving, 42.2x56.5cm
Provenance: H.A.J. Munro of Novar; RA exh., 1836; Munro sale, Christie's 6/4/1878 (100), bt. Agnew; Kirkman Hodgson, M.P., who sold to Agnew, 1893, who sold to James Price; bt Messrs. Wallis, 1895; Colonel O.H. Payne, New York by 1901; by descent to present owner
Collection: Mrs. Flora Whitney Miller, New York, USA