Joseph Mallord William TurnerVerses (Inscriptions by Turner) c.1807-8

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Artwork details

Verses (Inscriptions by Turner)
From Boats, Ice Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CI
Date c.1807-8
MediumGraphite on paper
Dimensionssupport: 180 x 107 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CI 88
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 88 Recto:
Verses (Inscriptions by Turner) circa 1807–8
Turner Bequest CI 88
Inscribed by Turner in pencil (see main catalogue entry) on white wove paper, 180 x 107 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘88’ top right, running vertically
Stamped in black ‘CI 88’ top right, running vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
See Introduction and note to folio 85 verso of the sketchbook (D06709) for the background and subject of these verses, the demolition of Alexander Pope’s villa at Twickenham. Rosalind Mallord Turner’s reading published in the 1990 Tate catalogue is adopted here:
As my son could behold the [?respected rich]
Alexis name your mercy would reach
He thou oft has told me left the shade
of Beau[t]ifull Binfield and a Grotto made
Where silver Thames with [but A] scouts
With silver and g[old] facing every court
Him shew how hast said call Windsor gr[eat?]
At on[c]e the Monarchs and the Masters seat
Amidst his house sank
& your Thames so Thomson to fame
‘Alexis’ refers to Pope himself, as in the verses on folios 86 and 86 verso of the sketchbook (D06710, D06711); the grotto is Pope’s also, the most famous feature of his villa; and as a boy Pope lived at Binfield in Windsor Forest. Here, Windsor is not only the home of royalty but the setting for Pope’s Windsor Forest (1713) describing Thames scenery. Thomson is James Thomson, Pope’s younger contemporary as a poet and author of the Seasons (1730).

David Blayney Brown
December 2006

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