This unfinished drawing has traditionally been categorised as an unengraved idea for the Liber Studiorum. It appears to show an imaginary scene and, as Ian Warrell has suggested,1 it was probably made before Turner’s first visit to Italy in 1819, though informed by his knowledge of Italy through paintings and prints by other artists. The silhouetted trees are reminiscent of those in the published subjects The Temple of Minerva Medica and Scene in the Campagna (for drawings see Tate D08128, D08141; Turner Bequest CXVII A, N); both were in Turner’s ‘EP’ category, generally thought to signify ‘Elevated Pastoral’ and owing much to the work of Claude Lorrain (see general Liber introduction). The distant classical buildings or ruins are also similar to those in engraved ‘EP’ compositions. There is another view of a garden with a balustrade among the unengraved Liber-type drawings, traditionally said to show Mâcon, France (Tate D08179; Vaughan Bequest CXVIII Y).
The work once formed a single sheet with Tate D08187 (Turner Bequest CXVIII g);2 the top edges of the respective compositions met, and were separated by freehand cutting. The border of the wash laid in for the sky on the other ‘half’ is visible along the uneven, matching top edge of the present work. A pencil line extending from about half-way up the right-hand edge of the sheet continues on the other drawing; thin, vertical stains about a quarter of the way in from each edge also continue onto the other sheet. These must pre-date their separation, either by Turner, or early on following their arrival at the National Gallery as part of the Turner Bequest, as the other work was allocated a number and title. However, the present ‘half’ was somehow overlooked by Finberg in his 1909 Inventory,3 its number ‘CXVIII h’ being a subsequent addendum. It appears to have been mounted by 1911, as the cropping of the Miniature Edition reproduction corresponds to yellowish staining on the sheet from a previous mount. However (unlike D08187, the last work recorded in the Liber sections of Finberg’s Inventory), it is not on the typescript list of exhibits for the comprehensive Liber exhibition held at the Tate Gallery and the Whitworth Institute, Manchester, between 1921 and 1923.4
Ian Warrell, in Warrell, Chavanne and Kitson 2002, p.189.
Forrester 1996, p.25 note 92.
A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909.
TS list, [circa 1921], Tate exhibition files, Tate Archive TG 92/9/2; The Liber Studiorum by Turner: Drawings, Etchings, and First State Mezzotint Engravings with Some Additional Engravers’ Proofs and 51 of the Original Copperplates, National Gallery, Millbank [Tate Gallery], London, November 1921–November 1922; Original Drawings, Etchings, Mezzotints, and Copperplates for the “Liber Studiorum” by J.M.W. Turner, R.A., Whitworth Institute Art Galleries, Manchester, December 1922–March 1923.
Miniature Edition, 1911, p..
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