Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on French Vocabulary; Colour Trials


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 155 × 91 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

There are extensive blue and grey colour trials. In the top half, Turner has inscribed the following in pen and brown ink:
Learn. Substantive. | no Comparison but by | Ajectives [sic] as. good. bonne | bad. Beau fine Positive | Plus Beau finer Comparitive [sic] | le Plus Beau Superlitive [sic] of | Femm. [Finberg: ‘Finer’] Masculine Le | White Blanc Positive | Whiter Plus Blanc Comparitive | Le Plus Blanc Super[‘li’ inserted above]tive
‘Whitest’ is written down the margin at the beginning of the last line. These notes of French vocabulary on the back of this card suggest that it may have been in use while Turner was planning his journey to the Continent in 1802 (see the ‘Switzerland 1802’ section of this catalogue). The view of London’s Somerset House on the recto (D01883; Turner Bequest XLIV G) perhaps dates from as early as 1798.

Andrew Wilton
March 2013

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