Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription ?by Turner: Accounts; with a Sketch of the Fireplace in the Oak Room, Farnley Hall

c.1814–17

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Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 178 x 110 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D09774
Turner Bequest CXXXIII 76 a

Catalogue entry

The sketch at the top shows part of the wooden panelling around the fireplace in the Oak Room at Farnley Hall. Two heraldic shields are indicated in the arched bays. Turner also made a rough sketch of the whole room, with the fireplace on the right on folios 74 verso–75 recto (D09770–D09771) and a variant study of the fireplace on folio 80 recto (D09779; Turner Bequest CXXXIII 79). There are discrepancies between the two drawings of the fireplace, and further inconsistencies compared with Turner’s finished gouache view of the room (private collection),1 where an additional band of panelling appears immediately above the fireplace opening, and there are a further two arched panels above (beyond the topmost entablature as noted in the present sketch); see under D09770 for further discussion on this point.
Running vertically from the bottom left is a set of dates and figures, presumably in pounds and shillings:
N      1st of June         –         1
          1 of Novr         –          2 . 3 .
          1 of March       –         2. 1
          4 of June           –         2  0
                         1818    1817.
          one year.
The ‘1818’ is crossed through and there seems to be the tail of a ‘7’ below the last ‘8’, so the revised ‘1817’ may be a second or third thought. Finberg noted that the ‘writing does not seem to me to be Turner’s’,2 although to the present author it does not seem especially uncharacteristic of the artist’s hand (which could vary considerably in neatness and legibility). The significance of the dates and figures is more perplexing, as they seem to indicate a scheme of payment of relatively small sums at irregular intervals over the course of a year; whether that period began or ended in the middle of 1817 is also unclear.
The figures’ appearing among drawings in and around Walter Fawkes’s Yorkshire home, Farnley Hall (see the sketchbook’s Introduction), may or may not be significant, but the amounts would have been as nothing compared to Fawkes’s mounting four-figure debts to Turner in the late 1810s, both in terms of sums owed for pictures and money actively loaned by the artist.3 As discussed in the sketchbook’s Introduction, the Farnley sketches here might well date from 1814, but Turner was at Farnley in the summer of 1816 (see the overall Introduction to this section) and again in the autumn of 1817 (see the Introduction to the tour of Durham and Northumberland in that year elsewhere in this catalogue). In line with the date actually (if somewhat hesitantly) written here, the inscription is here dated to abut 1817, but awaits clarification.

Matthew Imms
July 2014

1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.369 no.593, reproduced.
2
Finberg 1909, I, p.379.
3
See for instance James Hamilton, ‘Fawkes, Walter Ramsden (1769–1825)’ in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, p.105.

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