Joseph Mallord William TurnerGoing to School, for Rogers's 'Poems' c.1830-2

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Artwork details

Going to School, for Rogers's 'Poems'
Date c.1830-2
MediumWatercolour on paper
Dimensionssupport: 269 x 219 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 198
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Going to School, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’ circa 1830–2
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 198
Pencil and watercolour, approximately 125 x 102 mm on white wove paper, 266 x 218 mm
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 198’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This watercolour vignette is a finished design that Turner produced for the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems, but which was never engraved for publication.1 Jan Piggott has identified it as a subject for the long poem entitled, ‘Pleasures of Memory’, and describes the scene as depicting a ‘dame school’, a form of early schooling during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, usually run by women.2 He has suggested that the illustration may allude to Rogers’s own experience as a schoolboy in Stoke Newington.3
The sentimental subject-matter and soft palette echo the generally antiquarian style of the scene which is reminiscent of artists such as William Mulready, William Westall and George Morland. Turner has slipped a clever visual pun into the composition by placing a grindstone near the entrance to the school.4 His own feelings regarding his school days are perhaps also expressed by the unwilling figure of the boy with the green bag, coerced through the door by his mother.
Finberg 1909, p.904.
Piggott 1993, p.39.
Technical notes:
Joyce Townsend has identified that the boy’s bag in this vignette has been painted using emerald green, a manufactured pigment that Turner began using in the 1830s, shortly after they became available through specialist suppliers.1
Townsend 1993, pp.41–3.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘NG’ and ‘31’ top centre and ‘23 | b’ centre and ‘CCLXXX.198’ bottom centre
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 198’ lower centre

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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