After Joseph Mallord William Turner Wilderness of Engedi and Convent of Santa Saba 1836

Artwork details

Artist
Title
Wilderness of Engedi and Convent of Santa Saba
Date 1836
Medium Line engraving on paper
Dimensions Image: 102 x 142 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 1988
Reference
T05158
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Catalogue entry

[from] Finden's 'Landscape Illustrations of the Bible' pub.1834–6 [T05152-T05175; T06653-T06654]

Twenty-four etchings and line-engravings by various engravers, comprising twenty-two subjects out of a total of twenty-six; various papers and sizes; some annotated in pencil or stamped with names of collectors
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1988
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Lit: Mordechai Omer, Turner and the Bible, exh. cat., Israel Museum, Jerusalem 1979; Mordechai Omer, Turner and the Bible, exh. cat., Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 1981

About 1832 Turner received a commission for twenty-six views of biblical scenery to be engraved by the Finden brothers and published by them in conjunction with John Murray. Since Turner and the other artists employed had never visited the Holy Land, they based their designs on sketches taken on the spot by such travellers as the architects Charles Barry and Charles Robert Cockerell, Henry Gally Knight and Sir Robert Kerr Porter. After Turner, the most important artists employed to make the final designs were A.W. Callcott and W.C. Stanfield.

Turner's illustrations were engraved between 1833 and 1836. A prospectus was published in the front of vol.I of the 1836 edition of Landscape Illustrations of the Bible, although this was not the first edition of the plates to appear in book form. The prospectus shows that the plates, along with the accompanying text, could be acquired from the publishers in parts ‘for the convenience of persons who may desire to bind up these Illustations with any of the Established and Annotated Editions of the Bible’. It was envisaged that the work would be completed in twenty-four monthly parts, each containing four views. A list of the different prices is given, ranging from 2s. 6d. for Super-royal octavo impressions to 7s. 6d. for Imperial quarto proofs, together with suggestions of suitable Bibles into which the various sizes of plates could be bound. The plates were advertised as being ‘Sold also by Charles Tilt 1836.’ The parts must have first appeared in 1834, for in the introduction to the earliest edition of the Biblical Keepsake of that year, the author states that ‘The very favourable reception given by the Public to the Eight Numbers already published of “Finden's Illustrations of the Bible” has induced the proprietors to offer them in the present more portable form’.

Turner's illustrations appeared in several editions between 1834 and 1837 as well as in a few others after that date. The titles and authors of the editions vary as do the number of volumes in which they were issued, and there is some alteration of the plates. Rawlinson comments that the series ‘seems to have appeared under different and confusing titles’ and, indeed, the information given in his list of the various later states that appeared in book form differs from some of the publication details found by the compiler.

The earliest edition, published by John Murray in 1834, was entitled The Biblical Keepsake; or Landscape Illustrations of the Most Remarkable Places Mentioned in the Holy Scriptures and included a text provided by the Revd Thomas Hartwell Horne. This contained thirty-two plates, twelve of which were after Turner. In 1836 a two volume quarto edition by the same author and publisher, including the prospectus mentioned above, was issued under the title Landscape Illustrations of the Bible Consisting of Views of the Most Remarkable Places Mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. Volume 1 of this edition contained fifty plates, thirteen of which were after Turner, and volume II, forty-seven plates, including twelve after Turner. Another edition was also issued in a smaller octavo format in the same year although the inscriptions on the plates in these volumes vary from those in the larger edition and the illustrations appear in a slightly different order. An additional subject that was omitted from the large 1836 edition, ‘Jerusalem from the Latin Convent’ (Rawlinson II 1913, no.597, as ‘unpublished’), was also included. Other editions include a quarto volume in which the two volumes were amalgamated, dated 1835–6, and a three volume edition of The Biblical Keepsake, dated 1835–7. In 1852 Landscapes of Interesting Locations Mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, with a text by the Revd John M. Wilson, was published by A. Fullarton of Edinburgh, London and Dublin. This contained twenty-five Turner plates (‘Jerusalem from the Latin Convent’ was omitted).

Information given at the time about the plates - whether about the artists or original draughtsmen, engravers or biblical sources for the illustrations - is somewhat confusing, for the details published in the various editions are often contradictory. In the large 1836 edition of Landscape Illustrations of the Bible, for instance, the list of plates at the front of the volume, the text that accompanies the plates and the inscriptions on the prints themselves frequently fail to agree with one another. The facts relating to the plates given here are, therefore, not always conclusive. The page numbering of the plates in this group, given under publication details, is that of the 1836 two volume quarto edition of Landscape Illustrations of the Bible. The date on which a plate was first published is also recorded. The titles given are taken from Rawlinson, although slight variations on them appeared on the published plates.

The plates were engraved by William (1787–1852) and Edward Francis Finden (1791–1857), who gave their name to the publication. Other engravers responsible for the plates in this group were John Cousen (1804–80), William Radclyffe (1783–1855), James Bayliss Allen (1803–76) and James Stephenson (1808–86).

One of the plates (T05158) bears the collector's blind stamp of W.G. Rawlinson (‘W.G.R.’, Lugt 2624). A further stamp on the verso of the impression reads, ‘W.G. Rawlinson's Sale | 28,3,16 | A,W,’, indicating that the plate was acquired by the collector A. Wallis at the Rawlinson sale (see introduction to the Provincial Antiquities of Scotland, T04485-T04501). Several of the plates (T05152, T05155, T05157, T05166, T05173-T05174) are inscribed ‘A. Maurice | 9/4/15/ [? from] J. Murray's stock’. No reference has been found to a collector named Maurice and the date given is not one of a sale at Sotheby's or Christie's. Presumably Maurice acquired the prints from another source, perhaps directly from the publishers, John Murray.


T05158 The Wilderness of Engedi and the Convent of Santa Saba engr. J.B. Allen

Line-engraving 102 × 142 (4 × 5 9/16) on India paper laid on wove paper 305 × 442 (12 × 17 3/8); plate-mark 228 × 279 (8 15/16 × 11)

Inscribed: see below. Stamped within plate-mark with W.G. Rawlinson collection blind stamp: ‘W.G.R.’
Prov: ...; W.G. Rawlinson
Lit: Rawlinson II 1913, no.578, engraver's proof (b)

Engraver's proof of plate first published 1834; published in vol.I, 1836, pl.24. Original watercolour: private collection (Wilton 1979, no.1242). Inscribed in pencil below the plate-mark at the centre ‘Proof before any letters’, although an earlier engraver's proof, ‘a’, was inscribed with the artists' names. The biblical reference for this subject is 1 Samuel 24:1. The design was based on a sketch by Charles Barry.


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

About this artwork