J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Italy: Identified or Likely Subjects Not Linked to Particular Tours c.1828–43

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The subjects of the drawings in this section, including mountains, castles, hill towns and rocky coastlines, are mostly unidentified but, while awaiting further research, they appear to be of Italian scenes from the 1828–9 tour or later, and have been dated here to about 1828–43. By the late 1820s Turner complemented his touring work in sketchbooks with sheaves of small pieces of paper methodically torn from larger sheets, often in shades of blue, grey or buff. The artist had first set foot in Italy as early as 1802, but his first extensive tour – a crucial event in his career – was in 1819–20, and there were later visits to the north of the country involving journeys through central Europe in 1833, 1836, possibly 1837, 1840, 1842 and 1843. As well as a handful of colour studies from Turner Bequest sections CCLIX (‘Water colours on blue paper: mostly connected with the “French Rivers” series’), CCLXI (‘Small pencil on blue’) ...
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D24705, D24706, D24777, D24994, D28976, D28990, D33705–D33708, D33710–D33712, D33714, D33718–D33720, D33724, D33728, D33729, D33737, D33738, D33742–D33747, D33749, D33754–D33756, D33769–D33772, D33779–D33783, D33785, D33786, D33791, D33792, D33797–D33802, D33812, D33813, D33816, D33948–D33950, D33957–D33965, D33970, D33972, D33975, D33981, D33984, D33993, D33997, D34009, D34011, D34012, D34038, D34040, D34042, D34044, D34050, D34051, D34069, D34074, D34095, D34171, D36088, D36229, D36233, D40183, D40332
Turner Bequest CCLIX 140, 141, 212, CCLXI 22, CCXCII 29, 43, CCCXLI 26–29, 31–33, 35, 39–41, 45, 49, 50, 58, 59, 63–68, 70, 75–77, 90–93, 98–102, 104, 105, 110, 111, 116–120, 130, 130v, 133, 235–237, 243–250, 255, 257, 260, 265, 268, 276, 280, 291, 293, 294, 319, 321, 323, 325, 330, 331, 348, 353, 373, 435, CCCLXIV 242, 367, 371
The subjects of the drawings in this section, including mountains, castles, hill towns and rocky coastlines, are mostly unidentified but, while awaiting further research, they appear to be of Italian scenes from the 1828–9 tour or later, and have been dated here to about 1828–43. By the late 1820s Turner complemented his touring work in sketchbooks with sheaves of small pieces of paper methodically torn from larger sheets, often in shades of blue, grey or buff. The artist had first set foot in Italy as early as 1802, but his first extensive tour – a crucial event in his career – was in 1819–20, and there were later visits to the north of the country involving journeys through central Europe in 1833, 1836, possibly 1837, 1840, 1842 and 1843.
As well as a handful of colour studies from Turner Bequest sections CCLIX (‘Water colours on blue paper: mostly connected with the “French Rivers” series’),1 CCLXI (‘Small pencil on blue’),2 CCXCII (‘Water colour sketches connected with the Meuse-Moselle-Rhine tour, and others’)3 and CCCLXIV (‘Miscellaneous: Colour ... Small’),4 most of the works addressed here come from section CCCXLI of Finberg’s 1909 Inventory, dated there to around 1830–41:
Miscellaneous: Black and White. | (a) Grey Paper. | A number of sketches of mountain scenery, mostly unidentified. Among them are probably German subjects, in the neighbourhood of the Rhine and the Danube, scenes in the Austrian Alps and in North Italy, as well as scenes in Switzerland and elsewhere.5
Some of the subjects here are identifiable but their dating remains to be fully established. Views of the Priamar fortress at Savona (Tate D24705; Turner Bequest CCLIX 140) and several of the harbour at nearby Genoa (see under D33718: CCCXLI 39) may date from 1828, or possibly 1837. Inland, there are northern mountain scenes, possibly near Carisolo (D33779; CCCXLI 98) and Rogno (D33780, D33781; CCCXLI 99, 100) and at the Stelvio Pass (D34171; CCCXLI 435). Otherwise, as many of the works have attracted little scholarly attention since Finberg’s time, the present selection was compiled mainly through a process of visual analysis and comparison.6 As such they represent an interim grouping in the hope that their presentation as such may facilitate further identifications and clarification of their subjects and dating. See also the present author’s complementary section of ‘Northern Italy or Switzerland: Possible Subjects’, dated to about 1828–44; in due course there may prove to be connections or cross-overs with the works there.
Technical notes:
All the works are described individually, often incorporating the observations of paper conservator Peter Bower; but as a general rule, the sheets in Turner Bequest section CCCXLI are, as Finberg observed, generally of grey paper, ‘about 5 ½ x 7 ½ inches [140 x 190 mm], and in pencil and white chalk’.7
1
A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.II, p.789.
2
Ibid., p.813.
3
Ibid., p.937.
4
Ibid., p.1178.
5
Ibid., p.1064.
6
The author is very grateful to fellow Tate Turner cataloguers Alice Rylance-Watson and John Chu for intensive discussions in late October 2014, when the contents of the sections of separate sheets then remaining to be catalogued were largely drawn up.
7
Finberg 1909, II, p. 1064.

Matthew Imms
February 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Italy: Identified or Likely Subjects Not Linked to Particular Tours c.1828–43’, February 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/italy-identified-or-likely-subjects-not-linked-to-particular-tours-r1182955, accessed 20 November 2017.