Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on Reflected Light

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
D07473
Turner Bequest CVIII 72 a

Catalogue entry

The top two-thirds of the page are takenup with the following notes:
reflection this I deny reflections vary | according to the light and [...] position and | according to the agitation of the surface | of the reflecting medium but to [?consider] | water as glass to define ray and re | flection may be [?imprudent] and to some | appears conclusive becoming we say all | as clear as glass but that is the power | of [?clearness] and not admitting the [?instance] | of a medium which is not which to be | [?between] but the reflecting medium | is a cause not an effect not and | an interference now diff[...]
The passage is the last in a sequence of notes and diagrams which runs back from folio 79 verso (D07487), the penultimate page being folio 73 verso (D07475). The semi-diagrammatic drawing of a boat on folio 81 verso (D07491) also appears to belong with these notes, concerned with sunlight or light in general in terms of reflections and the casting of light and shadow from polished objects or bodies of water. They relate to Turner’s fifth Royal Academy perspective lecture, on reflection and refraction.
Davies has registered most of the notes from folio 91 verso (D07511) to folio 72 verso as ‘on light and shadow’;1 those from folio 91 verso to folio 82 verso (D07493) are distinct, dealing with sunlight as parallel or divergent rays.

Matthew Imms
June 2008

1
Davies 1994, p.289.

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