Joseph Mallord William Turner

Bridge and Goats

c.1806

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Medium
Pen and ink, graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 184 x 258 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D08146
Turner Bequest CXVII R

Catalogue entry

Engraved:
Etching, aquatint and mezzotint by Turner and F.C. Lewis, untitled, published Turner, 23 April 1812
The present design is considered to have been one of the earliest made for the Liber Studiorum, given its tentative appearance, and derivative style and subject1 based on Richard Earlom’s prints after Claude’s Liber Veritatis drawings, which have been cited as the immediate inspiration for Turner’s own series (see general Liber introduction). The composition (albeit when engraved in reverse) has affinities with several of Liber Veritatis prints including nos.3 (Landscape with Brigands),2 7 (Pastoral Landscape),3 20 (Pastoral Landscape)4 and 34 (Landscape with Brigands ...).5
Consequently, it was dismissed by Ruskin as one of the Liber designs ‘modified by forced imitation of Claude ... All the worst and feeblest studies in the book ... owe the principal part of their imbecilities to Claude’.6 Stopford Brooke perceived an uneasiness in Turner’s combination of Claude and Nature, as he did in other compositions in Turner’s ‘EP’ category (likely to indicate ‘Elevated Pastoral’ – see general Liber introduction). After a lengthy passage praising the evocation of great distances in the composition, he declared: ‘This is the kind of thing Claude could not do, and the plate was done in rivalry with Claude. ... But it is just because it is work done in rivalry, and in the manner of his rival, that it is not successful rivalry. The imitation takes away some of Turner’s individuality’.7 He concluded it was ‘[h]alf nature then, half convention; half Turner, half pseudo-Claude’ and thus ‘disagreeable’.8
As outlined below, in the first edition of his Liber catalogue, Rawlinson had used letters from Turner and the aquatint specialist F.C. Lewis in relation to the composition to demonstrate that it had been the first to be engraved, in 1807 – although it was not published until 1812, when the series was well under way – and later refuted at length C.F. Bell’s published doubts on the issue.9 Finberg also cast doubt on Rawlinson’s claims, since Turner’s only dated letter to Lewis regarding the print post-dated the first published part of the Liber (with mezzotints by Charles Turner) by some months;10 however, as Gillian Forrester notes in her review of the evidence, this does not preclude the possibility that the plate had been in hand for some time, and that Rawlinson’s interpretation may well be correct.11
1
Rawlinson 1878, pp.88–9; 1906, p.105.
2
Liber Veritatis; or a Collection of Prints after the Original Designs of Claude Le Lorrain ..., London 1777, vol.I, pl.3; from mid 1630s original drawing by Claude Lorrain (British Museum, London, 1957–12–14–9: Michael Kitson, Claude Lorrain: Liber Veritatis, London 1978, p.49, reproduced pl.3).
3
Liber Veritatis, vol.I, pl.7; from 1636 drawing (BM 1957–12–14–13: Kitson, pp.55–6, reproduced pl.17).
4
Ibid., I, pl.20; from 1637–8 drawing (BM 1957–12–14–26: Kitson, p.64, reproduced pl.20).
5
Ibid., I, pl.34; from 1638–9 drawing (BM 1957–12–14–40: Kitson, pp.73–4, reproduced pl.34).
6
Cook and Wedderburn V 1904, p.399.
7
Brooke 1885, p.143.
8
Ibid., p.144.
9
Rawlinson 1906, pp.104–5 note 1.
10
Finberg 1924, pp.lviii–ix; see also p.l.
11
Forrester 1996, pp.10–11, 104.
12
Rawlinson 1878, p.89.
13
Ibid., pp.182–4, letters nos.1–3; Gage 1980, pp.31–4, letters nos.18, 19, 21.
14
Gage 1980, p.33.
15
F.C. Lewis, letter to John Pye, 3 October 1850, transcribed in Rawlinson 1878, p.185, letter no.4.
16
Gage 1980, pp.33–4; see also Thornbury 1862, I, p.270.
17
Gage 1980, p.32.
18
Inferred from Turner’s letter, ibid.
19
Ibid., p.33–4; Rawlinson 1878, p.185; see also accounts in Pye and Roget 1879, pp.49–55; and see Finberg 1961, pp.139–40.
20
Gage 1980, p.32.
21
Finberg 1924, pp.[170], 171.
22
[Taylor and Vaughan] 1872, p.34 no.43.
23
Forrester 1996, pp.160–1 (transcribed).
24
Finberg 1924, p.xliii; Forrester 1996, pp.13–14.
25
Forrester 1996, p.161 (transcribed).
26
Rawlinson 1878, pp.86–96; 1906, pp.101–13; Finberg 1924, pp.165–84.
27
Hamilton 1998, p.68 note 34; see also under the Liber washed etching for Basle (Tate D08110; Turner Bequest CXVI I).
28
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.304 no.518, pl.520 (colour).
1
Forrester 1996, p.104 (analysis by Peter Bower, acknowledged p.8).
2
Townsend 1996, I, p.378.
3
Joyce Townsend, circa 1995, Tate conservation files, with slide of detail.
4
Ibid.; Forrester 1996, p.11.

Matthew Imms
August 2008

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