Catalogue entry

T05189 Ancient Italy engr. J.T. Willmore

Line-engraving 432 × 600 (17 × 23 5/8) on India paper laid on wove paper 679 × 917 (26 3/4 × 36 1/8); plate-mark 527 × 731 (20 3/4 × 28 3/4)
Inscribed: see below. Engraved inscriptions: ‘Painted by J.M.W. Turner, Esq. R.A.’ below image b.l., ‘Etched by J.T. Willmore.’ below image b.r.
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1988
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Lit: Rawlinson II 1913, no.657, engraver's proof (b); Herrmann 1990, p.231, pl.185

Engraver's proof of plate published singly 1842. Original oil painting: private collection (Butlin and Joll 1984, no.375). Rawlinson describes the complicated changes in ownership of the copper-plate of ‘Ancient Italy’ and its various printings, some of which were from electrotypes copied from the original plate. The identification of states for ‘Ancient Italy’ is consequently rather difficult, especially since impressions seem to have been issued, such as those by the National Art Union, in deliberate imitation of engraver's proofs. This impression, however, appears to be a genuine engraver's proof, published by F.G. Moon, since Rawlinson remarks that ‘the original Engraver's Proofs can be distinguished by the words “Etched by” appearing before the engraver's name’.

The print is stuck to a backing paper which is inscribed in pencil on the back ‘J.614 | 25 Guins’ and ‘Ancient Italy | Remarque proof before the word “Etched” was removed’. However, there is no trace of a remarque (an etched sketch made on the plate outside the main design) on this impression, although Rawlinson records an early engraver's proof ‘a’ with a sketch by Turner in the margin.

James Tibbetts Willmore (1800–63) was responsible for several large plates after Turner, such as ‘Mercury and Argus’ (Rawlinson II 1913, no.650), ‘Oberwesel’ (ibid., no.660), as well as some of the large plates executed after the artist's death. He was one of the most prolific engravers after Turner and was employed on nearly all Turner's major series.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996