Joseph Mallord William Turner

Captivity, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite, watercolour, gouache and pen and ink on paper
Support: 244 × 306 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 187

Catalogue entry

This vignette, Captivity, was engraved by Edward Goodall and published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems, as an illustration to a short poem of the same title.1 The vignette appears as a head-piece to the eight-line poem:
Caged in old woods, whose reverend echoes wake
When the hern screams along the distant lake,
Her little heart oft flutters to be free,
Oft sighs to turn the unrelenting key.
In vain! the nurse that rusted relic wears,
Nor moved by gold – nor to be moved by tears;
And terraced walls their black reflection throw
On the green-mantled moat that sleeps below.
(Poems, p.172)
Turner provides a romantic setting for Rogers’s young prisoner who can be seen standing at the window glowing with light. Details that the artist has developed from the text include the ‘green-mantled moat,’ as well as the drawbridge raised to emphasise the subject’s captive status.

Turner produced one preliminary study for Captivity (see Tate D27527; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 10). Unlike many of his preliminary studies for Poems, the sketch shows an entirely different subject from the one that he finally chose to illustrate.
Samuel Rogers, Poems, London 1834, p.172; W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.390. There are no impressions of this engraving in Tate’s collection.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘NG’ along top and ‘32’ top centre left and ‘24 | b’ centre and ‘CCLXXX 187’ bottom centre. Also in red ink ‘1050’ bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 187’ lower centre

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Read full Catalogue entry

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