View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
[from] Scott's Prose Works pub.1834–6 [T04727-T04763; T04961-T04994; complete]
Thirty-seven line-engravings, by various engravers and in various states, comprising thirty-six subjects out of a total of forty; various papers and sizes; all except T04742 stamped with Turner studio blind stamp
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Lit: Mordechai Omer, Turner and the Poets, exh. cat., Marble Hill House 1975; Gerald Finley, Landscapes of Memory: Turner as Illustrator to Scott, 1980; Turner in Scotland, exh. cat., Aberdeen Art Gallery 1982
Scott's Publisher, Robert Cadell, hoped that his new edition of the Poetical Works (see T04947-T04960, T05134-T05145) would be immediately followed by an edition of the Prose Works, as part of his scheme to republish all Scott's writings in verse and prose. Although it may have been as early as 1831 that the publication of the new edition of the Prose Works was first discussed, the earliest specific reference appears in a letter from Cadell to John Gibson Lockhart in the summer of 1832 (Finley 1980, p.190). Cadell had been anxious to put his publishing company in a secure financial position by obtaining as many copyrights of Scott's works as possible and to that end had acquired many of them after the author's bankruptcy in 1826, as well as purchasing further copyrights in 1831 and 1832. Cadell also hoped to ensure the success of the venture by retaining Turner as illustrator. The Prose Works was planned to be uniform with the Poetical Works both in size and design, and was originally envisaged as comprising twenty-four volumes, each with a frontispiece and vignette title, for which Turner was commissioned to produce forty designs.
The subjects for illustration were chosen by Cadell and Turner, along with Scott's son-in-law, John Gibson Lockhart, who had been asked by Cadell to assist with the publication as editor. Lockhart was more assertive than Scott had been in selecting illustrations and dismissed Cadell's proposal of having portraits as frontispieces, suggesting instead that they should primarily be landscape views designed by Turner.
Some of the drawings were developed from sketches already in Turner's possession, such as those made on his 1831 tour of Scotland, while others were made specifically for the project, requiring special excursions. Turner travelled to France in August 1832 to collect material for the Life of Napoleon (while there he heard of Scott's death in September 1832), and returned to Scotland in the summer of 1834 to draw subjects for Tales of a Grandfather.
The illustrations for the Prose Works covered a wider range of subject-matter and were not limited to landscape views of Scottish scenery as had been the case with the Poetical Works. Of the forty illustrations, only fourteen were of Scottish scenes and these were primarily for Tales of a Grandfather. The first drawings were completed in June 1833, when Turner supplied Cadell with some finished watercolours for the Life of Napoleon, and the final designs for Tales of a Grandfather were handed over to engravers in 1835. Turner was paid twenty-five guineas for each drawing, as had been the case for the Poetical Works, in addition to being reimbursed for the cost of the French trip of 1832.
Cadell had hoped to begin the publication of the Prose Works with Scott's Life of Napoleon but was to be thwarted in his attempts, for by May 1833 neither Turner's illustrations nor the editing of the text by Lockhart had been completed. Since Cadell could not afford to delay publication, it was decided instead to commence with the Lives of novelists, who included Dryden and Swift. The choice of subjects for the later volumes for Tales of a Grandfather was not finalised until May 1834.
The first volume of the Miscellaneous Prose Works of Sir Walter Scott appeared on 1 May 1834 and included a prospectus stating that it would be continued in monthly volumes with ‘designs of the landscapes from real scenes by J.M.W. Turner’. A few illustrations by other artists, amongst whom were G.F.Sargent and D.C. Hill, were also included; these were mainly portraits of authors such as those of Dryden and Swift. The work was planned to comprise twenty-four volumes priced at five shillings, each containing a frontispiece opposite a title-page vignette and those for the Life of Napoleon were to include maps. The volumes were published in Edinburgh by Cadell, in London by Whittaker, Arnot and Co., and in Dublin by John Cumming. The Prose Works was, in the event, extended to twenty-eight volumes, published between 1834 and 1836.
The engravers for the Turner plates in this group were all from Edinburgh, where an important school of engravers had grown up in the early nineteenth century. The majority of plates were executed by William Miller (1796–1882), along with John Horsburgh (1791–1869), who produced eight plates in this group, William Richardson (active 1836–77) and William Forrest (1805–89), who were responsible for one plate apiece.
All but one of the plates in this group (T04742) are stamped with Turner's studio monogram stamp (Lugt 1498). The order of the plates as listed in Rawlinson does not always correspond with the chronological order of their appearance in the published volumes.
T04729 Brussels - Distant View engr. W. Miller
Line-engraving 82 × 140 (3 1/4 × 5 1/2) on India paper laid on wove paper 300 × 436 (11 13/16 × 17 3/16); plate-mark 151 × 209 (5 15/16 × 8 1/4)
Engraved inscriptions: ‘J.M.W. Turner R.A.’ below image b.l., ‘W. Miller’. below image b.r., 'Edinburgh, Published by Robert Cadell; & Moon, Boys & Graves, London.' below image at bottom centre; Turner studio blind stamp b.r. edge of image
Prov: As for T04727
Lit: Rawlinson II 1913, no.519, engraver's proof (c)
Engraver's proof of plate published in Vol.v, 1834, Paul's Letters to his Kinsfolk, frontispiece. Original watercolour: untraced (Wilton 1979, no.1096).
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996
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