Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscriptions by Turner: Calculations; with a Grotesque Head, Perhaps Personifying Jealousy


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

Graphite on paper
Support: 117 x 75 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

This slight sketch of a sheepish-looking man’s – or devil’s – head with a shallow forehead and apparently pointed ears seen full-face, is presumably imaginary or a caricature. An inscription immediately opposite, on folio 1 recto (D08362), may read ‘Jealousy’. The face is inverted in relation to the foliated sequence of the book.
There are also scattered calculations and jotted figures, made when the page was turned sideways with the gutter at its foot and overlapping with the drawing in places. They are faint, and partly obscured by the most prominent inscription, that of Turner’s executors, with the book’s original schedule number endorsed by Henry Scott Trimmer, John Prescott Knight and Charles Lock Eastlake, starting from the top of the page in ink, ‘No 369 | 147 leaves of | pencil sketches | H S Trimmer’, and initialled in pencil ‘JPK’ and ‘C.L.E’ below, towards the centre right. The figure ‘147’ is difficult to make out, and the ink must have spread on the absorbent paper immediately, as Trimmer has reiterated in ink below the initials: ‘147. leaves’.

Matthew Imms
June 2011

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