Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Garden, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour and gouache on paper
Support: 231 × 305 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 162

Catalogue entry

The Garden was engraved by William Miller and published as the frontispiece for the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems.1 It appears opposite the title page for the first poem, ‘The Pleasures of Memory’.2 The image shows an Italianate garden, occupied only by a young boy and a hunched old man. Jan Piggott has described the scene as an amalgam of the formal gardens that Turner had visited during his tours of Italy.3 These include the gardens at the Villa Lante at Bagnaia, the Villa d’Este, and the Palazzino at Caprarola, as well as the Boboli Gardens, all of which Turner had sketched first-hand during his visits to Italy in 1819 and 1828.4 Piggott has also observed that the Italian themed subject, as well as specific features of the composition such as the arcades, statuary, potted trees, and cypress trees, allude to the final illustration in Rogers’s Italy, A Farewell (see Tate, D27667; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 150), which Turner had just finished.5 This visual pairing, along with the similar design of the two volumes, reinforces the link between Poems and Italy.
Turner’s illustration complements a quote by the fourteenth-century Italian poet, Petrarch, which Rogers includes as the epigraph to his own poem ‘The Pleasures of Memory’:
Dolce sentier, .......
Colle, che mi piacesti,....
Ov’ ancor per usanza Amor mi mena;
Ben riconosco in voi l’usate forme,
Non, lasso, in me.6
(Sweet path,
Hill, that once I counted dear
Where, as of old, Love doth entrice me still
You are not changed whom I remember well
But I am otherwise.)7
The hunched old man and the young boy in the vignette allude to the theme of revisiting the sites of one’s youth raised in both Petrarch’s and Rogers’s poem. However, as Jan Piggott has pointed out the illustration also bears a clear relationship with several passages in the next poem in the book, ‘Human Life’, in which Rogers describes an ‘aged pilgrim’ and a boy who ‘chases the bright butterfly.’8
On a touched proof of the printed version of The Garden (University College London), Turner gave his engraver, William Miller, clear instructions regarding the final appearance of the vignette now rendered in black and white:
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.373. There is one impression in Tate’s collection (T04671).
Samuel Rogers, Poems, London 1834, frontispiece.
Piggott 1993, p.41.
For sketches of the Villa Lante see the St Peter’s sketchbook (Turner Bequest CLXXXVIII) and the Rome: Colour Studies sketchbook (Turner Bequest CLXXXIX); for the Palazzino at Caprarola, see the Viterbo and Ronciglione sketchbook (Turner Bequest CCXXXVI); for the Villa d’Este, see the Tivoli to Rome sketchbook (Turner Bequest CLXXIX); and for the Boboli Gardens, see the Rome and Florence sketchbook (Turner Bequest CXCI).
Piggott 1993, p.41.
Rogers 1834, p.3.
Lorna de’Lucchi (trans.), An Anthology of Italian Poems 13th and 19th Century, New York 1922, p.87.
Rogers 1834, pp.65 and 70.
Quoted in Piggott 1993, p.83.
Cook and Wedderburn (eds.), London 1903–12, vol.XXII, p.378.

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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