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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Buildings, and a Draft Letter to the Royal Academy Council (Inscription by Turner) 1809

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 23 Recto:
Buildings, and a Draft Letter to the Royal Academy Council (Inscription by Turner) 1809
Turner Bequest CII 23
Inscribed by Turner in pencil (see main catalogue entry) on white wove paper, 115 x 76 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘23’ top right, running vertically
Stamped in black ‘CII 23’ top right, ascending vertically
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner’s note reads:
My expedition this summer has frustrated | my progress on the lectures more than I expected | but I shall bear in mind the regulation that | which allows 2 years of preparation time to the | Professor to prepare lectures and shall | endeavour not to exceed that time. I | feel happy that the council allows making | arrangements with the Professor. An early | notice of the order of succession of lectures | like the council when shewn to attend | would be highly beneficial as the | Professor would in that case be | aware of the period and in which | order they are expected to read | the part
As Davies observes, this is the draft of a request from Turner to the Council of the Royal Academy for more time to prepare his lectures as Professor of Perspective. The initials ‘PO PS’ on the facing folio 22 verso (D06763) must be connected with it. Turner had been elected to the post in December 1807 and here invokes his right to two years for preparation. The note must date from late in 1809, his ‘expedition this summer’ having been visits to Sussex, Yorkshire and Cumberland.1 Council minutes of 17 October 1809 record receipt of Turner’s request while those of ?10 February 1810 state that Turner had ‘agreed to postpone’ his lectures until the following season. Davies suggests that Turner might have been put off by protest about his friend John Soane, the Professor of Architecture. However, this arose after Turner’s request, and following Soane’s attack on the work of Robert Smirke in his lecture on 3 February 1810, which caused such uproar that his course was suspended. More likely is that Soane’s previously high standards of content and presentation had persuaded Turner that his own material still needed work. He began delivering his lectures in January 1811.2
Continued from folio 22 verso (D06763) is a small pencil sketch of Thames-side buildings and boats.

David Blayney Brown
March 2007

See Sketchbooks Connected with Work in Sussex, Yorkshire and Cumbria for the Earls of Egremont and Lonsdale 1809).
See also Davies 1992, pp.20–1.

How to cite

David Blayney Brown, ‘Buildings, and a Draft Letter to the Royal Academy Council (Inscription by Turner) 1809 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, March 2007, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-buildings-and-a-draft-letter-to-the-royal-academy-council-r1130857, accessed 25 April 2018.