Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on Chemistry

c.1813

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 88 x 113 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D09959
Turner Bequest CXXXV 55

Catalogue entry

Without suggesting Turner’s source, Joyce Townsend has analysed his list of terms: a pyrogen [sic] is produced by or produces fire, and the term can also refer medically to a fever-inducing substance; an opigen [sic] produces sap or juice; and a lipogen [sic] produces fat.1
This is the last of fourteen pages of notes on varnishes and colours resulting from chemical reactions, beginning on folio 62 verso (D09974) and working from the back of the sketchbook as now foliated. As discussed in the sketchbook’s Introduction, most are taken from William Nicholson’s 1808 Dictionary of Practical and Theoretical Chemistry. The three terms here have not been found in that publication, and Turner’s approximate, possibly phonetic, spelling may indicate an oral rather than a written source in this instance.2
1
Townsend 1992, p.6, with transcription (followed here with slight variations).
2
See Imms 2011, p.4.
Technical notes:
There is an ink blot showing through from the verso (D09960) towards the top right. There is a small, ringed spot of foxing at the centre, which also shows on the verso (D09960).

Matthew Imms
April 2014

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