Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes and a Draft of Poetry

c.1819

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 119 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D13752
Turner Bequest CLXIX 1 a

Catalogue entry

At the top of the page is a note of two lines: ‘2. 6 of 3. 6 from to to [sic] 4 [?rehung] and | [...] some [?add...t... paper] entering with Money’. This seems to be connected with Royal Academy business; for various other such notes in this sketchbook, see under folio 4 recto (D13757).
Below is a draft of poetry:
Of [?G...] thy [... ?high] Gay Rein
In Summer reign enlarged Autumns gleams
Her [?golden] beauty [... ?Sheen]
Of Glassy Thames by any graces beams
[?Wake ...] spurns the Queen
Of [?sleeping] honor, [? ‘so’ or ‘to’] the wide spread scene
[...] thy beauties as thy rising hills
To the ex[...] of [?extra] vastness fills
To [... ?hight] <...> [...] groves
[...] by O[...]
from the long [...] of T[...] B[...] hight
[...] delight
Turner’s somewhat cramped had here makes a full transcription problematic, but the general sense is of a nature poem with a Thames Valley setting, a common theme in Turner’s verse.1 His large painting England: Richmond Hill, on the Prince Regent’s Birthday, was exhibited in 1819 (Tate N00502),2 as noted under folio 4 verso (D13758); it was accompanied in the Royal Academy catalogue3 by the following lines from ‘Summer’ from James Thomson’s Seasons:
Which way, Amanda, shall we bend our course?
The choice perplexes. Wherefore should we chuse [sic]?
All is the same with thee. Say, shall we wind
Along the streams? or walk the smiling mead?
Or court the forest-glades? or wander wild
Among the waving harvests? or ascend,
While radiant Summer opens all its pride,
Thy Hill, delightful Shene?
As the sketches on folio 2 recto opposite (D13753) may relate to the Richmond Hill painting, it is possible that Turner’s lines here are a draft for a poem to accompany it, which he left unresolved in favour of Thomson. ‘Sheen’ or ‘Shene’ is an archaic or poetic name for Richmond as a whole, and East Sheen still forms part of the borough.

Matthew Imms
September 2013

1
See for example the drafts in Turner’s ‘Verse Book’, transcribed in Andrew Wilton and Rosalind Mallord Turner, Painting and Poetry: Turner’s ‘Verse Book’ and his Work of 1804–1812, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1990, pp.150–3.
2
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.106–7 no.140, Pl.145 (colour).
3
The Exhibition of the Royal Academy, M.DCCCXIX. The Fifty-First, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London, 1819, p.13.

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