Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscriptions and Sketches by Turner


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

Turner has used the inside front cover of the sketchbook to make a series of notes in pencil and also some rough sketches. The inscriptions in the top left-hand corner concern his financial arrangements and the currency he took with him for his travels. They read as follows: ‘Changed at Calais, a L or and a 5 note | 20 [?Left] ...1 | 10 to Hannah | 10 to Daddy | 40 left in 30 checks’ and ‘5 Changed in Lon | 11 the [?Carriage] | 5 at Calais | 2 [?Silver] to Dover | 23 to Lyon’.1 Based upon this information it seems as though Turner left £10 each in London for his housekeeper, Hannah Danby, and his father but took with him around £40.2 He then spent £23 during the journey between London and Calais, and furthermore changed a Louis d’Or (a French gold coin worth about 20 francs)3 and a £5 note at Calais.4 Finberg believed that the artist would probably have arranged credits for further supplies with the banks of Torlonia or Hammersley at Rome.5
Also on the sheet (with the sketchbook held vertically) are a couple of thumbnail sketches recording coats of arms. Turner has annotated the studies with colour notes. The left, topped by a crown, is marked ‘WR’ and ‘RW cross’, and the right which seems to be topped by a bird is marked ‘W cross’. The indication of a ‘red’ and ‘white’ cross with a crown above it suggests that the left shield may represent the coat of arms of the ruling house of Savoy. At the bottom of the page is a very schematic drawing which is too rough to be identified, although it appears to depict a building with mountains beyond.
Additionally the page has been endorsed by the executors of the Turner Bequest and numbered ‘395’ as part of the Turner Schedule in 1854. They noted the sketchbook contained 87 leaves, although a further inscription by John Ruskin indicates that he counted ‘89’. For further discussion concerning the numbering and concordance of the book see the Introduction.

Nicola Moorby
February 2013

The transcription here is very close to that in Finberg 1909, I, p.503, and in Guillaud, Alfrey, Wilton et al. 1981, p.106.
Hamilton 1997, p.196.
Heinrich August O. Reichard, A Descriptive Road Book of France, London 1829, p.5.
Ibid., and Finberg 1930, p.14.
Finberg 1930, p.14.

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