Glaucus and Scylla, 1841

Joseph Mallord William Turner, British

Credit: Restituted to the heirs of John and Anna Jaffé in 2006; reacquired in 2007

J. M. W. Turner dominated British landscape painting throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, when landscape gained widespread recognition as a major category of modern art. Emulating his idol, the seventeenth-century French historical landscape painter Claude Lorrain, Turner sought to go beyond mere observations of nature by including momentous events from the past within his landscapes as moral lessons. But during Turner’s lifetime and ever since, his paintings have been most admired for his virtuoso renditions of natural appearances, especially dramatic light effects. The way Turner represents the flood of sunlight in Glaucus and Scylla, for example, heralds not only the bold brushwork developed by the French Impressionists later in the century, but also the veils of nonrepresentational color in Abstract Expressionist painting.

The Kimbell painting addresses an episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses in which the seagod Glaucus hopes for the favor of the beautiful ocean nymph Scylla. Turner depicts her fleeing from the outstretched arms of her would-be lover, whose hopes have been dashed by the jealous and vengeful Circe, daughter of the Sun, who loves Glaucus. To frighten Scylla away from him, Circe has turned Glaucus into a sea monster. Circe will later transform Scylla into a rock, and Turner probably alludes to this with the two red outcroppings aglow on the distant horizon.

Adult: Glaucus and Scylla

Audio file
Kimbell Art Museum, Acoustiguide Inc.



Purchased by Benjamin Godfrey Windus, Tottenham, at the Royal Academy exhibition, 1841, no. 542;

(his sale, Christie’s, London, 20 June 1853, no. 40, bought in for £735);

(Windus and Others sale, Christie’s, London, 26 March 1859, no. 50, bought in for £294);

(sale, Christie’s, London, 19 July 1862, no. 58);

purchased by [Thomas?] Bought for £294.

Louis Huth, Esq., London, until 1872;

(sale, Christie’s, London, 2 March 1872, no. 73);

purchased by (Arthur Tooth and Sons, London) for £535.

José de Murrieta, Marquis de Santurce, until 1883;

(his sale, Christie’s, London, 7 April 1883, no. 171, bought in).

Sir Horatio Davies, Lord Mayor of London, England, until 1901;

(Charles Sedelmeyer [1837-1925], Sedelmeyer Gallery), Paris, by 1902;

John Jaffé [-1933] and his wife Anna Jaffé [-1942], Nice, 1902/3-1942;

(sale ‘Vente Collections John Jaffé,’ ordered by the Commissariat aux questions juives de l’Etat Français, Nice, H"tel Savoy, 12-13 July 1943, no. 121) for Frs. 28,000.

Emile Leitz, Paris, until 1956;

purchased by (Agnew’s, London);

Howard Young Galleries, New York, 1957.

Mrs. Chamberlain, U. S.A., until 1966;

(Newhouse Galleries, Inc., New York);

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1966.

Restituted to the heirs of Anna Jaffé in 2006;

(their sale, Christie’s, New York, 19 April 2007, no. 122);

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth.