After Joseph Mallord William Turner Whitby ?1844

Artwork details

Artist
Title
Whitby
Date ?1844
Medium Line engraving on paper
Dimensions Image: 66 x 98 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 1988
Reference
T05183
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Catalogue entry

[from] ‘Dr Broadley's Poems’? c.1844 [T05183-T05186; complete]

Four line-engravings, comprising four subjects out of a total of six; various papers and sizes
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1988
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery

No information about this group of engravings can be established beyond that given by Rawlinson, and he himself was unsure of the history of the plates: ‘The tradition, dating back almost from Turner's time, has always been that they were originally commissioned to illustrate a volume of poems by a certain Dr. Broadley, which were to be printed for private circulation. I can find no trace however of such a work, and I imagine that the project fell through. The steel plates appear to have remained unused until they were purchased by Messrs. Bell, and published in 1867 in Art and Song.

It does indeed seem likely that the illustrations, which are closely related in terms of subject-matter and size, were intended for a specific project, and the plates were certainly executed during Turner's lifetime, for engraver's proofs survive that are touched or inscribed by Turner (for instance ‘Tynemouth Priory’, T04786, which is not only touched by the artist but is stamped with Turner's blind stamp, showing that it was in his studio when he died). The compiler, like Rawlinson, has been unable to find any record of ‘Dr Broadley's Poems’, but until further information comes to light, it seems best to assume that the prints were indeed intended as illustrations to this publication.

Art and Song was not published until 1867, sixteen years after Turner's death. The publishers were Bell and Daldy of London, with Robert Bell also acting as editor of the volume. In his introduction, Bell states that ‘the [Turner] plates possess more than ordinary interest as being the last that were supervised by the painter’, giving credence to Rawlinson's suggested dating of c.1844. Bell also claims that the engravings are ‘now printed from the plates for the first time... The collection of these Engravings has been the work of a lifetime. An amateur of fortune, well known in artistic circles, formed the design of procuring a series of highly-finished Vignettes, on subjects chosen by himself, with a view to an ultimate object which he did not live to accomplish’. The character referred to here is perhaps Dr Broadley himself, and his untimely death may have been the cause of the long delay between the execution of the plates and their publication. Bell, of course, is erroneous in claiming that the plates were first printed in Art and Song, although he may have meant that it was here that they were first published.

Art and Song was described on the title-page as ‘A series of Original Highly finished Steel Engravings from Masterpieces of Art of the nineteenth century accompanied by a selection of the choicest poems in the English Language’. The poetry was mostly by well-known authors from Shakespeare to Byron and his contemporaries, and the engraved plates were after distinguished artists including, in addition to Turner, John Martin and Thomas Stothard.

According to Rawlinson, the size of the plate-mark on the impressions after Turner distinguished the original engraver's proofs (presumably those made during Turner's lifetime) from later impressions. The plate-mark of the engraver's proofs measured 7 × 11 1/2 inches, which was reduced to 5 7/8 × 8 5/8 for first state and all later impressions. The first state impressions were those that were issued in 1867 by the publishers of Art and Song as a large paper edition, without letter press, in portfolio. The later states appeared in book form in Art and Song.

The engravers for the series were: John Cousen (1804–80), who executed four plates, Edward Goodall (1795–1870) and William Miller (1796–1882), who produced one plate each.

T05183 Whitby engr. J. Cousen, pub. 1867

Line-engraving 66 × 98 (2 5/8 × 3 7/8) on India paper laid on wove paper 537 × 380 (21 1/8 × 14 15/16); plate-mark 219 × 150 (8 5/8 × 5 7/8)
Engraved inscriptions: ‘J.M.W. Turner, R.A.’ below image b.l., ‘J. Cousen.’ below image b.r.
Lit: Rawlinson II 1913, no.639, first published state

Published: p.139 to accompany ‘To Whitby’ by Caroline Bowles. Original watercolour: private collection (Wilton 1979, no.905).

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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