Joseph Mallord William Turner

Vignette Study; for ?Campbell’s ‘Poetical Works’


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 199 x 224 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 72

Catalogue entry

The subject of this unfinished monochrome study is too vague to be conclusively linked to any of Turner’s finished illustrations. However, it is probably one of a group of more than thirty watercolour studies in the Turner Bequest that appear to be preparatory sketches for Campbell’s Poetical Works. They are all painted on cheap, lightweight paper and executed in a rough, loose style.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower has noted that this study is made on off-white low-grade machine-made cartridge paper. The maker is unknown and there is no watermark. This paper would have been relatively cheap to buy and was inferior to standard drawing papers. Turner has used the ‘felt’ side of the sheet which has slightly more texture than the ‘wire’ side, allowing better adhesion of pigment and graphite to the surface of the sheet. Many of Turner’s vignette studies were made on a similar grade of machine-made paper, and the artist employed the ‘felt’ side on all of them.1
Bower 1999, p.59.
Inscribed in pencil by Executors of the Turner Bequest Charles Lock Eastlake ‘C.L.E.’ top left and by John Prescott Knight ‘JPK’ top centre left
Inscribed by unknown hand in pencil ‘CCLXXX 72’ top left, inverted

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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