after Joseph Mallord William Turner

Caligula’s Palace and Bridge


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
After Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Line engraving on paper
Image: 394 × 615 mm
Purchased 1986

Catalogue entry

T04789 Caligula's Palace and Bridge engr. E. Goodall, pub.1842

Line-engraving 396 × 616 (15 9/16 × 24 1/4) on India paper laid on wove paper 654 × 848 (25 3/4 × 33 3/8); plate-mark 540 × 712 (21 1/4 × 28 1/16)
Engraved inscriptions: ‘J.M.W. Turner. R.A. pinct.’ below image b.l., ‘Edwd. Goodall Sculpt.’ below image b.r., ‘LONDON: PUBLISHED JUNE 23RD LOO PLACE, FOR J.M.W. TURNER, R.A.’ below image at centre
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Exh: Tate Gallery 1989–90 (87, repr.)
Lit: Frederick Goodall, Reminiscences, 1902, pp.50–1; Rawlinson II 1913, no.653, first published state; Andrew Wilton, Turner in his Time, 1987, p.225, fig.297; John Gage, J.M.W. Turner: A Wonderful Range of Mind, 1987, p.94; Lyles and Perkins 1989, no.87, repr.

Published as a single plate, 1842. Original oil painting: Tate Gallery, N00512 (Butlin and Joll 1984, no.337).

In March 1842 the publication by subscription of five large copper-plate engravings (Rawlinson II 1913, nos.652–6), one of which was ‘Caligula's Palace’, was advertised in the Art Union. This project may have been a revival of an earlier proposal, instigated in 1822 by the printsellers Hurst and Robinson, that had not materialised, although the choice of paintings to be engraved in the latter group was different. These five carefully chosen subjects were intended to be seen as worthy successors to the great prints of the eighteenth-century engravers such as William Woollett. The importance Turner attached to this project is demonstrated by the fact that he took the risk of publishing the prints at his own expense under the name of his agent Thomas Griffith, the first time he had done so since the Liber Studiorum. The prints were issued in a limited edition of 500 impressions, signed by the artist.

Edward Goodall had been responsible for several of the large plates after Turner. This plate, on copper, must have occupied the engraver for many months for he was apparently paid the large sum of 700 guineas for his work. According to Frederick Goodall, the engraver's son, Turner and Goodall quarrelled over the ownership of the touched proofs (Goodall 1902, p.50); although the author records that these were claimed by Turner and eventually passed on his death to his next of kin, it is more probable that they were sold at Christie's in 1873–4, along with the rest of the engravings found in the artist's studio.

One or two interesting anecdotes are recorded concerning the execution of this plate. Rawlinson relates a version of the story recounted by Frederick Goodall (1902, p.50) of how Turner wished to add more figures to the design and, accordingly, painted them on the canvas, so that they could be engraved. Rawlinson records that the additional figures were added in watercolour but examination of the painting shows that this is not the case (see Butlin and Joll 1984, no.337). Another story, that may not necessarily relate to ‘Caligula's Palace’, is also included in the Reminiscences (1902, p.57) and describes Turner's attempt at explaining how to translate colour into black and white.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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