Joseph Mallord William Turner

St Anne’s Hill, II (In the Garden), for Rogers’s ‘Poems’


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 244 x 308 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 171

Display caption

Another celebrated home visited by Turner was that of Charles James Fox,
the radical Whig politician. Fox was leader of the opposition when William Pitt was Prime Minister, during much of the 1790s.


Turner produced two views of Fox's villa
in Surrey for the 1834 edition of Samuel Rogers's Poems. This one accompanied lines written by Rogers at the time of Fox's funeral in Westminster Abbey, recalling his achievements. The house is glimpsed from a bower in the garden. Turner has introduced a couple of books lying open on a bench, a detail suggested by Rogers's affectionate pen-portrait.


Gallery label, September 2004

Catalogue entry

This vignette, St Anne’s Hill, II, was published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems and appears as the tail-piece to a poem entitled ‘Written in Westminster Abbey’.1 The engraver was Edward Goodall.2 The poem pays tribute to the prominent Whig politician Charles James Fox (1749–1806), whose body was interred in Westminster Abbey on 10 October 1806:
Whoe’er thou art, approach, and, with a sigh,
Mark where the small remains of Greatness lie.
There sleeps the dust of FOX for ever gone;
How near the Place where late his glory shone!
(Poems, p.212)
Within the margin of his own copy of the 1827 edition of Poems, Turner drew a small thumbnail sketch of Westminster Abbey (see Tate D36330; Turner Bequest CCCLXVI p.226), suggesting that he may originally have intended to illustrate the poem with a literal topographical scene reflecting the title.3 However, the artist ultimately abandoned this idea in favour of a pictorial reference to St Anne’s Hill in Surrey, the home to which Fox retired at the end of his life:
When in retreat He laid his thunder by,
For lettered ease and calm Philosophy,
Blest were his hours within the silent grove,
There shone his lamp on Homer’s hallowed page.
There, listening, sate the hero and the sage
(Poems, p.213)
This change of direction was probably at the behest of Rogers who had been a personal friend of the statesman. The reference to the ‘silent grove’ retreat serves as the basis for Turner’s view of the garden at St Anne’s Hill. The empty path leading into the garden and the neglected pile of books in the foreground highlight Fox’s departed presence. The artist also made another vignette featuring the estate to accompany a reference to Fox in the poem ‘Human Life’. This illustration shows a view of the house (see Tate D27687; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 170).
Turner made a number of sketches of St Anne’s Hill in the Windsor and St Anne’s Hill sketchbook, one of which served as the basis for this vignette (see Tate D20588; Turner Bequest CCXXV 25).4 The trellis that appears on the left side of Turner’s sketch acts as a framing device through which the viewer gains access to the garden beyond. As Maurice Davies has observed, the trellis generates a ‘viewing stage,’ firmly locating the viewer just outside the garden entrance.5

A touched proof of St Anne’s Hill, (Yale Center for British Art) indicates that Rogers was involved in the development of Turner’s Poems illustrations right up until the final stages of publication.6 On the proof Turner has written: ‘Mr. Rogers brought me this wishing it to be made “richer of flowers” ... NB Make the trellis work thicker the large tree more made out by work thus [sketch of foliage] light not heavy.’7 Such evidence proves that Rogers contributed directly to the design of Turner’s illustrations, while also highlighting the meticulous attention to detail that was observed by poet, illustrator and engraver alike.
Samuel Rogers, Poems, London 1834, p.214.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.397. There are two impressions in Tate’s collection (T05123 and T06169).
Holcomb 1966, p.89.
Wilton 1975, p.114.
Davies 1992, pp.80–1.
Quoted in Lee 1993, p.33.

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Read full Catalogue entry

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