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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Vignette Study, possibly of a Conflagration; for Campbell's 'Poetical Works' c.1835-36

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Vignette Study, possibly of a Conflagration; for Campbell’s ‘Poetical Works’ circa 1835–36
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 67
Watercolour, approximately 165 x 115 mm on off-white machine-made cartridge paper, 178 x 226 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘(67’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 67’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The subject of this hastily executed sketch appears to be a conflagration. Although the composition is too vague to be conclusively linked to any of the finished watercolours, the work appears to be one of a group of more than thirty studies in the Turner Bequest related to Turner’s illustrations for Thomas Campbell’s Poetical Works. They are all painted on cheap, lightweight paper and executed in a rough, loose style.
The work was once part of a parcel of studies described by John Ruskin as ‘A.B. 40. PO. Vignette beginnings, once on a roll. Worthless’.1 For an explanation of his meaning of ‘once on a roll’ see the technical notes to Tate D27579; CCLXXX 62. Finberg records how Ruskin later described his phrasing in a letter to Ralph Nicholson Wornum as ‘horrible’, adding ‘I never meant it to be permanent’.2
Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.894.
Ibid., vol.I, p.xi.
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘AB 40 P| O’ bottom right

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

How to cite

Meredith Gamer, ‘Vignette Study, possibly of a Conflagration; for Campbell’s ‘Poetical Works’ c.1835–36 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2006, 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-vignette-study-possibly-of-a-conflagration-for-campbells-r1133424, accessed 25 July 2017.