Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: A Translation from Welsh Poetry

1799

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 329 × 225 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D41268

Catalogue entry

At the top right, Turner has inscribed the following in pen and brown ink:
Snowdon Mountains while every House
crow usually [?Croaks]
there is no good of much sleep
Snowdon Mountain ravenous snow [?or ‘shore’]
[?melted] windy often
in Distress best is a relation
Transcribed by Mr Lloyd from Pennent [sic]
Thomas Pennant (1726–1798), of Penrhyn, near Bangor, a distinguished antiquary and naturalist, noted this poem in his Journey to Snowdon (1781).1 The somewhat enigmatic quotation, which is close to the literal transcription from the Welsh given by Pennant, may be associated with Turner’s thinking on the subject of the extermination of the Welsh bards, on which he planned two large watercolours, one of which he finished and showed at the Royal Academy in 1800 (Tate D04164; Turner Bequest LXX M), while the other exists only as an ébauche or sketch (Tate D04168; Turner Bequest LXX Q), along with some figure studies.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

1
Thomas Pennant, ‘The Journey to Snowdon’ in A Tour in Wales, vol.II, London 1781, p.169.

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