Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on Painting in Relation to Poetry

c.1809

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Pen and ink on paper
Dimensions
Support: 115 × 88 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D07444
Turner Bequest CVIII 51 a

Catalogue entry

The whole page is taken up with the following notes:
Poets thought tho his means are different | he [?bears] the censure with the power of | redemption while he is confined to the | local contra[...] of his art and if he | is happy he is considerd only secondarily | as endeavouring to give to the most vulgar | age what has been admitted to be beautiful | in the Poet, by very different means when | failure he meets disgrace either as <[?the]> | defficient in the mechanical excellencies | or not feeling his author or not conveying | his sentiment either has made a | sorry choice but has his sentiments | of the Poets sentiments are his own and | has he must embody them by known | effects of nature he should be allowd | to consider’d equal in sintiments and1
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 52 verso (D07446), and the next on folio 50 verso (D07442), continuing in mid-sentence at each end.
Wilton and Turner read the second word of the second line as ‘hears’, and the second of the fourth as ‘contrarieties’, although Turner’s word does not seem long enough. In his partial transcription, Jerrold Ziff reads ‘excellencies’ as ‘execution’. Either seems plausible, but his reading of the penultimate word as ‘his merits’ appears less likely.2

Matthew Imms
June 2008

1
See Wilton and Turner 1990, p.137 (transcription, followed here with slight variations).
2
Ziff 1964, p.197.

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