Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: Notes on Royal Academy Business


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 119 × 87 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXIX 40

Catalogue entry

Turner filled the page, turned vertically, with the following notes:
Pension of Mr Nixon – £10 don–
20 Donation to Thos Vaughan,
the Four [‘new’ inserted above] members of Council for | the year –
5 6 of April Pictures to be sent
2 of May – –
Pictures. Sculpt[...] Archi[...] B[...]
15£ to be granted to strangers
P. cave of Despair
A Pliny Villa, drawing in Perspective
S. Jacob and Angel
A Shorditch St
Thomas Vaughan was appointed Clerk to the Royal Academy in 1822, having previously acted as a part-time assistant to the Secretary.1 After publishing Turner’s notes in his 1909 Turner Inventory, Finberg made manuscript transcriptions from the relevant passage of Royal Academy Council minutes for 12 January 1819,2 noting that the following subjects were for Premiums to be awarded the following 10 December: a historical painting of the ‘Cave of Despair’ from Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene; an architectural drawing of ‘Pliny’s Villa’, reconstructing the house of the Roman writer Pliny the Younger at Laurentinum from his own description; and a sculpture of ‘Jacob wrestling with the Angel’.3 Gold medals for these were awarded to Joseph Severn, Sydney Smirke and Joseph Gott respectively.4 The last subject is a view of St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch High Street, with its portico and steeple.
There are similar notes on folio 39 recto (D13810), and others which relate to the Academy’s annual exhibition in the spring of 1819 towards the beginning of the sketchbook (see under folio 4 recto; D13757).

Matthew Imms
September 2013

Sidney C. Hutchison, The History of the Royal Academy 1768–1986, London 1986, p.80.
Undated MS transcriptions in Finberg’s own interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, vol.I, facing p.492.
Genesis 32:24–29.
William Sandby, The History of the Royal Academy of Arts from its Foundation in 1768 to the Present Time. With Biographical Notices of All the Members, London 1862, vol.II, p.413.

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