Catalogue entry

T05203 Damon and Pythias, from ‘The Book of Gems’ engr. F. Bacon, pub.1837

Line-engraving, vignette, approx. 76 × 95 (3 × 3 11/16) on India paper laid on wove paper 293 × 197 (11 9/16 × 7 15/16); plate-mark 236 × 140 (9 1/2 × 6)
Engraved inscriptions: ‘Turner’ below image b.l., ‘Bacon’ below image b.r.
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Lit: W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, II, 1913, pp.205, 331, of unknown state

Published in The Book of Gems, II, 1837, pl.31. Three volumes of The Book of Gems: The Poets and Artists of Great Britain appeared between 1836 and 1838, comprising a broad anthology of British poetry in a chronological survery from Chaucer up to the date of publication. The quality of the illustrations was high, with designs after the most prominent artists of the day. The work was edited by Samuel Carter Hall; the first two volumes were published in London by Saunders and Otley and the last by Whittakers. The 1837 volume, in which this plate appeared, covered the period from Swift to Burns and included plates after Bonington, Constable and Danby.

‘Damon and Pythias’ was used to illustrate an extract from The Pleasures of Imagination by Mark Akenside. The plate is included in Rawlinson as one that was wrongly attributed to J.M.W. Turner. The engraved inscription on the plate, giving the artist's surname only, probably caused the confusion: the engraving is in fact after F.C. Turner, as is clearly stated in the front of the 1837 volume, although J.M.W. Turner was also a contributor to The Book of Gems (see After J.M.W. Turner, T04787-T04788).

The engraver was Frederick Bacon (1803–87) who was a member of the Finden brothers' workshop. Bacon also executed an engraving after J.M.W. Turner for Milton's Poetical Works, 1835 (“The Temptation on the Pinnacle”, Rawlinson II 1913, no.602).

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