Joseph Mallord William Turner

Going to School, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’

c.1830–2

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 269 x 219 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D27715
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 198

Catalogue entry

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.
1
Finberg 1909, p.904.
2
Piggott 1993, p.39.
3
Ibid.
4
Ibid.
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
1
Townsend 1993, pp.41–3.
Verso:
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

Read full Catalogue entry

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