Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscription by Turner: ?Poetry


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour and graphite on paper
Support: 79 × 101 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXCI c 42 a

Catalogue entry

There are ten lines of what appears to be a draft of poetry here; each line here comprises about six to eight words, and continues for anything up to three or four words inside the back cover opposite (D41221). Finberg did not attempt a transcription,1 nor is the passage mentioned in the most detailed survey of Turner’s own poetry, which concentrates on his most prolific period, much earlier in his career.2
The transcription attempted here is extremely patchy and speculative, and no overall sense emerges. The whole of each line across the two pages is given, with the ellipses often indicating several words, and the gutter marked ‘|’:
And [‘lured’ or ‘lurid’ inserted above] is [?their] one yes one any | [?he ... opend]
Of [?S... p... velur] – he [...] | [...]
D[...] the self [?pr...] the [?sly ch...] | who
[...] T[...] grandeur to rule the [... | ...]
Change the [...] | [?he ...]
[?C...] and [...] in the [...] | [...]
But by [?in...] and [... | ... ?a]
[?on] the [...] of the [...] | –
Yet he [...] [?he ... | ...]
The [?C...] and the [... | ...]
This page and the recto (D28946) are listed separately in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory, albeit both as page ‘42’; an ‘a’ suffix has been since added to the Turner Bequest number in line with Finberg’s customary way of indicating a verso.
See Finberg 1909, II, p.937.
See Andrew Wilton and Rosalind Mallord Turner, Painting and Poetry: Turner’s ‘Verse Book’ and his Work of 1804–1812, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1990.
Technical notes:
The paper is stained around the edges from proximity with the leather overlaps under D41221 opposite.

Matthew Imms
May 2014

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