Joseph Mallord William Turner

Arithmetic (Inscriptions by Turner)

1802–3

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 156 × 241 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D40792

Catalogue entry

Several accounts have been noted by Turner, as follows. In ink, running vertically inside the outer edge of the cover:
Prints     £6   10   6   Mr Williams 
Picture     5    5   0
           --------------- 
          £11   15   6 
           --------------- 
In pencil, below upper edge:
Mitchell, near the Red Lion
         26     18 
          2 
          2     22  days 
                       19 
Finally, in pencil at the bottom, ‘Rolles | Rose & Crown’.
These expenses must relate to a trip to Oxford, probably late in 1802 or during the following year, which also occasioned the various drawings of the city and scenery in the Thames Valley in this sketchbook (see Introduction). Further accounts, of expenses at Newbury, are noted inside the back cover (D40794).
Colin Harrison assumes Turner’s dealings with Mr Williams over a picture and print to be ‘buying rather than selling’, doubtless because the other accounts relate to travel expenses. Mr Williams may be the same one to whom Turner sent his respects in a letter of 1800 to the Oxford-based artist William Delamotte (National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth). With the letter, John Gage publishes an entry from Pigot’s Dictionary (1823–4) for a John Williams, of ‘Printsellers, Carvers and Gilders & Picture-frame Makers’ at St Mary Hall-Lane, Oxford. His wife is presumably the ‘Mrs Williams’ listed alongside Delamotte as taking prints of the Shipwreck in 1805 (Shipwreck (1) sketchbook, Tate D05377; Turner Bequest LXXXVII 2), while Turner is recorded as giving a watercolour, dated 1800, of Iffley Mill, Oxford to ‘Williams the Engraver, at whose house Turner was staying in Oxford’.1 A further visit could account for the Oxford subjects in this sketchbook. It was perhaps during this visit that Turner sold his picture Kilgarran Castle on the Twyvey, Hazy Sunrise, Previous to a Sultry Day (The National Trust), which had been shown at the Royal Academy in 1799, to Delamotte for 30 guineas.2

David Blayney Brown
March 2004

1
W.E. Frost and H. Reeve, A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, Water-Colour Drawings and Prints in the Collection of the late H.A.J. Munro of Novar, London 1865, no.57..
2
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.8–9 no.11 (pl.9).

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