View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
- Aquatint on paper
- Image: 237 x 206 mm
- Purchased 1986
[from] History and Description of Cassiobury Park pub.1837 [T04840-T04841; complete]
Two aquatints by J. Hill, comprising two subjects out of a total of four after Turner for this publication
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Lit: T.E. Jones, A Descriptive Account of the Literary Works of John Britton, F.S.A., II, 1850, pp.103–4; Rawlinson II 1913, pp.396–8; S.T. Prideaux, Aquatint Engraving, 1909, p.329; [J.R. Abbey], Scenery of Great Britain and Ireland in Aquatint and Lithography 1770–1860 from the Library of J.R. Abbey: A Bibliographical Catalogue, 1952, reprinted 1972, pp.273–4
Rawlinson believed that John Britton's History and Description of Cassiobury Park existed in two editions, one published in 1816 and another in 1837. However, no copy of an 1816 edition has been found by this cataloguer. It seems likely that Rawlinson mistakenly assumed the existence of the earlier edition because one of the prints after Turner included in the 1837 publication, ‘Cassiobury, Hertfordshire, - the Seat of the Earl of Essex’ (Rawlinson II 1913, no.818), was in fact first published in 1816, but for a different series, Robert Havell's Noblemen and Gentlemen's Seats (1814–23), in which John Britton also had an interest (Jones 1850, p.68). When the plate was then reused for the History and Description of Cassiobury Park (1837), the 1816 publication date was scratched through, together with the dedication line to Sarah, Countess of Essex. The three other plates after Turner for the Cassiobury publication are not dated. Those impressions which Rawlinson assumed were published in the 1816 edition are presumably earlier states-in effect engraver's proofs - of the prints which were eventually published in 1837; however, they may well have been engraved long before their actual publication date, as John Hill was out of the country by 1822 (see below).
The genesis of the project is related by T.E. Jones (1850, pp.103–4). John Britton had first met the Fifth Earl of Essex in 1800, at his Herefordshire Seat, Hampton Court, and was thereafter in regular correspondence with him. The Earl commissioned Turner, William Alexander (1767–1816), Henry Edridge (1769–1821), A.E. Pugin (1762/9–1832, father of the well-known Victorian architect A.W.N. Pugin), William Henry Hunt (1790–1864) and others to make views of different parts of the house and grounds at Cassiobury, his Hertfordshire seat, and subsequently had a series of plates engraved in aquatint from some of the drawings. Turner had first made drawings in the grounds at Cassiobury in the 1790s, but Wilton believes that it was probably not until c. 1807 that he received his commission to make the four large drawings of the house (Wilton 1979, p.319).
The printmaker John Hill (1770–1850) specialised in aquatint engraving and mezzotint. In 1822 he emigrated to America, and is especially known for his American views. As well as T04840-T04841, he contributed another plate after Turner for this series, an interior view of ‘The Great Cloister, Cassiobury’ (Rawlinson II 1913, no.821), as well as the majority of the other aquatint plates for the publication. T.E. Jones records (ibid.) that only 170 copies of the book were published, twenty large paper copies, atlas folio, for which the plates were hand-coloured, and 150 small paper, super royal, in which the plates were issued plain. He further comments on the beauty of the typography, set by the Chiswick Press, and relates how the copies were prepared for publication with much care and at great expense.
T04840 West Front, Cassiobury
Aquatint 237 × 206 (9 5/16 × 8 1/8) on wove paper 517 × 343 (20 3/8 × 13 3/4); plate-mark 329 × 253 (12 15/16 × 9 3/16)
Engraved inscriptions: ‘I.W.M Turner Esqr R.A.’ below image b.l., ‘Hill aquatinta’ below image b.r., ‘West Front | CASSIOBURY’. below image at centre
Lit: Rawlinson II 1913, no.819, as first published state but probably engraver's proof
Original watercolour: sold Christie's, New York, 23 February 1983, lot 163, repr. in col. (Wilton 1979, no.191).
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996