Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Financial Notes


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 202 × 126 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

Rather than indicating the general topographical contents, as is often the case with Turner’s own ink inscriptions on sketchbook covers or subsequent labels, these notes are of less lasting significance, being typically ad hoc financial memoranda of the sort scattered through his books as the artist journeyed around Europe. The ‘Austrian Florin’ noted in the first line was a widespread form of the coin originally minted in gold in medieval Florence; by Turner’s time it was used in Austria and its territories, including Venice, and in Germany as the Gulden (compare also the British and Irish florin).1 The sketchbook contains views in both Venice and Germany. The last part of the first line may relate to relative value to the coin apparently mentioned on the next.
The second word in the second line appears to have been written and overwritten on the same occasion, presumably owing to uncertainty over its spelling, leaving it somewhat unclear. Cecilia Powell has read it as ‘Secuin’,2 and Turner seems to be indicating the Sequin, the long-established gold ducat of the former Venetian Republic; its Italian form, zecchino, derives from the Zecca,3 the mint often seen in the artist’s drawings of the Venice waterfront west of the Piazzetta.
Florins are mentioned again inside this cover (D41400) in relation to travel expenses.
See entry in ‘Dictionary of Coin Denominations: F’, Treasure Realm, accessed 23 January 2018,
Powell 1995, p.242.
See entry in ‘Dictionary of Coin Denominations: S’, Treasure Realm, accessed 23 January 2018,
Technical notes:
The surface is somewhat rubbed and stained, with dark patches at the top and bottom right.

Matthew Imms
September 2018

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