T04839 Fishing Boats off Calais (The 'Pas de Calais’) engr. W.Davison, ?pub.1830
Mezzotint 391 × 587 (15 3/8 × 23 1/8) on wove paper 593 × 852 (23 3/8 × 33 9/16); plate-mark 470 × 642 (18 1/2 × 25 1/4); Turner studio blind stamp lower right of image
Engraved inscriptions: ‘PAINTED BY J.M.W. TURNER, R.A.’ below image b.l., ‘ENGRAVED BY W. DAVISON | 13, Howland Street, Fitzroy Square’. below image b.r., ‘London, Published by J.M.W. Turner, R.A. 47, Queen Ann Str[eet West. May 1830]’ (letters only partially visible) below image at centre
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Prov: Turner sale, Christie's 3–7 March 1874; ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Lit: Rawlinson II 1913, no.796, first published state
The engraved lettering on this print gives Turner himself as the publisher, as it does also for two other large mezzotints he anticipated issuing the same year, 1830 (‘The Field of Waterloo’, Rawlinson II 1913, no.795 and ‘The Garden of Boccaccio - The Birdcage’, ibid., no.796). However, Rawlinson lists all three prints as unpublished (ibid., p.210), and indeed they are all given as unpublished in the Catalogue of the Fourth Portion of the Engravings from the Works of J.M.W. Turner R.A. (Turner sales, Christie's, 3–7 March 1874, see also under T 04838 above). In support of his argument, Rawlinson notes that all the impressions of ‘Fishing Boats off Calais’ bear the stamp of the Turner sales of 1873–4 (which is the case not only for this impression but for four more in the British Museum). Although, then, Turner did not apparently succeed in publishing any large mezzotints after his own work in the early 1830s, in 1842 he issued five large copper-plate engravings at this own expense (ibid., nos.652–6; see under T05187-T05188).
Little is known about William Davison. Thieme-Becker (Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler, Leipzig, 1907–50, VIII, p.480) lists him as a portrait and landscape painter who exhibited at the Royal Academy and British Institution in London between 1813 and 1843, and who is also known to have made mezzotints. This print is rather blonder than one would expect for a mezzotint. However, this can probably be explained by the fact that the original oil on which it is based (Manchester City Art Galleries; Butlin and Joll 1984, no.236) is a brightly lit daytime scene, rather than by any deficiencies in Davison's skills as a mezzotinter.
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996