Joseph Mallord William Turner

Vignette Study, possibly of a Conflagration; for Campbell’s ‘Poetical Works’

c.1835–36

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 179 x 227 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D27584
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 67

Catalogue entry

The subject of this hastily executed sketch appears to be a conflagration. Although the composition is too vague to be conclusively linked to any of the finished watercolours, the work appears to be one of a group of more than thirty studies in the Turner Bequest related to Turner’s illustrations for Thomas Campbell’s Poetical Works. They are all painted on cheap, lightweight paper and executed in a rough, loose style.
The work was once part of a parcel of studies described by John Ruskin as ‘A.B. 40. PO. Vignette beginnings, once on a roll. Worthless’.1 For an explanation of his meaning of ‘once on a roll’ see the technical notes to Tate D27579; CCLXXX 62. Finberg records how Ruskin later described his phrasing in a letter to Ralph Nicholson Wornum as ‘horrible’, adding ‘I never meant it to be permanent’.2
1
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.894.
2
Ibid., vol.I, p.xi.
Verso:
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘AB 40 P| O’ bottom right

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Read full Catalogue entry

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