Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on Painting in Relation to Poetry


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink on paper
Support: 115 × 88 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CVIII 50 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following notes:
having conquered his difficulties or made the | contrad[...]tion – should be considerd to have | produced what is exclusively his own
One word is sufficient to establish | what is the greatest difficulty to the | painters Art to produce wavy air | as some call
The Wind
while at one frown the sun declining [?like] | never has the Painter to give that wind | but difficulty. he must give the cause | as well as the effect, and without whch | he would be nothing. but should he | produce, that which every one must | feel the declining ray. he must know | that the Poet by giving that which is | allowable only but by the greatest1
These notes are part of a sequence beginning at folio 53 verso (see entry for D07448) and continuing back through the sketchbook to folio 48 verso (D07438). The previous passage is on folio 51 verso (D07444), and the next on folio 49 verso (D07440), continuing in mid-sentence at each end.
Wilton and Turner give the first word of the second line as ‘contradis[tinc]tion’. In his partial transcription, Jerrold Ziff omits this word and interprets the crabbed handwriting of the first lines somewhat differently: ‘having conceived his differences of method should be allowed to have produced’.2

Matthew Imms
June 2008

See Wilton and Turner 1990, p.137 (transcription, followed here with slight variations).
Ziff 164, p.197; for his selective transcription of the rest of the page, see p.198; see also Lindsay 1966, p.240 for partial transcription.

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