In this painting Turner pays tribute to both the eighteenth-century French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau and the playwright William Shakespeare. The depiction of lighthearted outdoor entertainment, a style known as fête galante, was a specialty of Watteau but an unusual theme for Turner. What You Will is the subtitle of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a play that involves mistaken identities and flirtatious encounters between characters.
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||19 5/8 x 21 3/8 in. (49.8 x 54.3 cm) Frame: 25 3/4 x 27 3/8 x 2 7/8 in. (65.4 x 69.5 x 7.3 cm)|
|Acquisition||Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007|
Joseph Mallord William Turner, What You Will!, 1822, Oil on canvas. Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007. The Clark Art Institute, 2007.8.107.
Lees, Sarah, ed. Nineteenth-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute; New Haven and London: distributed by Yale University Press, 2012. Clarke, Jay, ed. Landscape, Innovation, and Nostalgia: The Manton Collection of British Art. Williamstown, MA: The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2012.
Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey (1822–d. 1841); Lady Chantrey, his wife, by descent (1841–61, sale, Christie’s, London, 15 June 1861, no. 91, sold to Agnew’s); [Agnew’s, London, from 1861]; R. Newsham; J. H. Nettlefold (until 1910, his sale, Christie’s, London, 12 Feb. 1910, no. 68, sold to Vicars Brothers); [Vicars Brothers, London, sold to Agnew’s]; [Agnew’s, London, sold to Darell-Brown]; Sir H. Darell-Brown (until d. 1924, sold to Rofé in 1927, with Agnew’s as agent for Darell-Brown Estate);¹ Albert Rofé (1927–59, sold to Agnew’s); [Agnew’s, London, sold to Sobell, 1959]; Sir Michael Sobell (1959–d. 1993, sale, Christie’s, London, 15 Apr. 1994, no. 60, sold to Pilkington); Brian Pilkington (from 1994); [Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, sold to Manton, 27 Dec. 1999]; Sir Edwin A. G. Manton, New York (1999–d. 2005); Manton Family Art Foundation (2005–7, given to the Clark); Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2007.
1. The painting was offered for sale at H. Darell-Brown’s posthumous sale, Christie’s, London, 23 May 1924, no. 42, ill., but was bought in.