Joseph Mallord William Turner

Recipes for Lithographic Printing


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 118 x 75 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCX 2

Catalogue entry

Here Turner has inscribed a page of recipes for chemicals used in the processes of lithographic reproduction. 1 Lithography is a method of printing from a flat surface (such as a smooth stone or a metal plate) which has been prepared so that the image to be printed is ink-receptive and the blank areas are ink-repellent. The technique was invented by the German actor and playwright Alois Senefelder (1771–1834). Turner owned a copy of Senefelder’s A Complete Course of Lithography (1819), so it is likely that these notes were extracted from this source.2 Further notes on the chemical aspects of engraving and painting are found on Tate D18314–D18316; Turner Bequest CCX 2a–3a.
Turner’s notes are transcribed thus:
‘Lithography – the Soap is [...] desolv[ed]
by the Aqua fortis – being saturated
to the utmost by pieces of Lith stone
then diluted with Water.
Silicated potash makes Gum
a White flakey insoluble precipi[?tate]
Test for Oxalic Acid common Ink
which turns Red like Red Milk
100lb of Linseed Oil 1 ½ lb Acetate of Lead
1 ¼ of Calcined Umber 1 ½ lb of White
Lead. 1 ½ of pumice stone boild for
10 hours – until 1/3 of its weight and
mixt with pipe clay, becomes thick
as treacle. This mixt with glue
[...] to the oils weight becomes with the
Varnish a coat for canvass or leather
Waterproof. 2 is not this canvas ground.
If a smooth and brilliant surface
5 lb of the V and 5 lb of rosin and
add 2 lb of Oil of Turpentine
lemon Juice. Aquafortis or sulphuric acid
Intro muriatic acid, chloride of
lime discharges Color’.

Alice Rylance-Watson
February 2015

Townsend 1992, p.8.
Gage 1969, pp.43, 233 note 126.

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