T05190 Heidelberg from the Opposite Bank of the Neckar engr. T.A. Prior, pub.1846
Line-engraving 365 × 542 (14 3/8 × 21 3/8) on India paper laid on wove paper 657 × 852 (25 7/8 × 33 9/16); plate-mark 555 × 696 (21 7/8 × 27 3/8)
Inscribed: see below. Engraved inscriptions: ‘T.A. PRIOR, - 1846’ below image b.r., ‘PUBLISHED BY T.A. PRIOR, 3, ELIZABETH PLACE, UPPER ROAD, PUTNEY, JUNE 1ST. 1846 -’ below image at centre
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1988
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Exh: Tate Gallery 1989–90 (88, repr.)
Lit: Rawlinson II 1913, no.663, first published state; Herrmann 1990, p.237, pl.189
Published as a single plate, 1846. Original watercolour: private collection (Wilton 1979, no.1377). An inscription on the back, ‘J642’, seems to be in the same hand as that on T05189, perhaps indicating that the impressions were once in the same collection.
Rawlinson relates the story of the conception of this plate: ‘Prior told me that in 1840 he applied to Turner for a commission for engraving, and having been attracted by Heidelberg on a recent visit, he suggested that subject to Turner. The painter at first discouraged him, as his large engravings had not latterly been selling well, but on reflection he yielded and promptly made the Heidelberg Drawing from a sketch of Prior's, charging the latter 100 gs. for it’. Although the story seem unlikely since Turner had drawn Heidelberg on many previous occasions, it may perhaps be confirmed by the existence of an unusual colour study for this composition in the Turner Bequest (CCCLXV 34), which is partially annotated and coloured and carefully plotted out in detail as though Turner was feeling his way with an alien theme.
‘Heidelberg’, engraved on steel, was the first plate that Thomas Abiel Prior (1809–86) engraved after Turner, yet, according to Rawlinson, Turner unusually only once touched a proof during the course of the engraving, an indication of his great satisfaction with the plate, which greatly enhanced Prior's reputation. Prior was the original publisher but later states were issued by A.H. Payne of Dresden and Leipzig. According to Rawlinson, ‘Heidelberg’ was the only plate that Prior engraved during Turner's lifetime, although, in fact, Prior had also executed ‘Venice - the Grand Canal’ for the Vernon Gallery in 1850; this was not included in Rawlinson's catalogue.
An interesting engraver's proof in the British Museum seems to be one chosen by Prior specifically for presentation to the Museum for it is inscribed ‘To Mr Carpenter with T.A. Prior's best complements’. William Hookham Carpenter was Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the Museum from 1845 to 1866.
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996