Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: A Draft of Poetry on Pope’s Villa

c.1808–11

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 87 x 117 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D07964
Turner Bequest CXIV 4

Catalogue entry

Almost the whole page is taken up with poetry:
To thee whose Villa once this shore along
Hath Thames reechoed to thy Pas [blank] song
Remembering [?cheering M]
Yet demolition caught my wan eyes
Which bid it yet to live in various dyes
Rembring [?cheering] to days of sunny cheer
And asks this Witnes to thy men bear
and the remorse from its partin home
Stands here to Pope a monumental Stone1
The passage refers to the 1807 demolition of the house by the River Thames once owned by the poet Alexander Pope (1688–1744), which Turner lamented in his oil of Pope’s Villa at Twickenham, exhibited at his gallery in 1808 (private collection).2 The artist had composed poetry on the subject at about the same time in his ‘Verse Book’3 and may have returned to it here in ‘gently pastoral and elegiac’ mood4 in anticipation of the publication of an engraving from the painting in 1811.5 As Wilton and Turner suggest, ‘Pas’ presumably indicates ‘Pastoral’ and ‘Rembring’ ‘Remembering’.6 There is a longer variant on folio 77 recto (D08064).

Matthew Imms
January 2012

1
See Wilton and Turner 1990, p.169 (transcription, followed here with slight variations).
2
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.55–6 no.72, pl.82 (colour).
3
See Wilton and Turner 1990, pp.50–1, 129–30, 150 (transcription).
4
Ibid., p.129.
5
Ibid., p.50.
6
Ibid., p.169.

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