Joseph Mallord William Turner

Recipes for Bodied Paint Media (Inscriptions by Turner)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 108 x 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CV 10 a

Catalogue entry

Turner’s inscriptions read:
12 oz. of Gum Mastick  
 5 oz of Gum A[rabic]   
12 oz. of Soft Water  
 4½ of G. Arabic  
 8 of Wax  
 4 oz. of G.A.   
 8 oz. of S. Water  
 2 of Mastick. Boiled and Beat | till it becomes a paste| then add 5 oz. of wax.   
 More water makes like Cream  
Joyce Townsend, Senior Conservation Scientist at Tate, identifies these recipes as being for bodied paint media that would be added to oil paint on the palette: ‘They would give a somewhat limp impasto, but would be good for clouds. Megilps give similar effects.’ She adds that the last two recipes would fit results from her analyses of Turner’s materials but that in the first, gum arabic would not always be detectable by analysis, so it is harder to prove whether he used it.

David Blayney Brown
June 2010

Read full Catalogue entry

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