Joseph Mallord William Turner

Verses, Arithmetic &c (Inscriptions by Turner)


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 119 x 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

Rosalind Mallord Turner’s reading of the verse for the 1990 Tate exhibition is retained here:
Hind head tho[u] cloud-capt winded hill 
In every wind that heaven does fill 
On thy dark hearth [? heath] the traveler mourns 
Ice[y] nights approach &     groans 
The low wan sun has downward sunk 
The steamy Vale looks dark and dank 
The doubtful roads scarce     seen 
Nor sky lights give the doubtful green 
But all seem[s] d[r]ear & horror 
Hark the kreaking irons 
Hark the screeching owl 
This is presumably Turner’s own work, inspired by the views of Gibbet Hill between Hindhead and Godalming in this sketchbook; see especially folio 22 (D06540; Turner Bequest C 21). The numbers, written by Turner in pencil, probably represent bank drafts, accounts and, as Finberg suggested, Navy Notes. They should not be taken as representing the dates on which the sketchbook was used, as Spencer-Longhurst has recently implied. They read:
No. 6920.      13 Nov., 1807     50 
N. Note.  
     3637.      8 Augt. 1807     100 
     6611.      6 Sep.  1807      10 
    36497.     22 Sept. 1807       1 
    20500.     17 Sep. 1807.       1.  
The remaining inscriptions represent the endorsement of the Executors of the Turner Bequest; see also Introduction to the sketchbook.

David Blayney Brown
May 2006

Read full Catalogue entry

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