Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscriptions by Turner: Calculations; Quotation from Virgil

c.1809

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and pen and ink on paper
Dimensions
Support: 88 × 115 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D07353
Turner Bequest CVIII

Catalogue entry

This endpaper is inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘XIII [?Sou...] | G [...] | non omnia possumus omnes | Virg Ec 8 ver 631 | With [...] we [...]’, towards the left-hand (outer) edge, ascending vertically. He has also inscribed the following in ink at the bottom right, upside down in relation to the general sequence of the book:
5      10 
1       6 
<6> 7   1 
        2 
See also a full page of accounts inside the back cover (D07354). The most prominent inscription is that of Turner’s executors, with the book’s original schedule number endorsed by Henry Scott Trimmer, Charles Lock Eastlake and John Prescott Knight, starting above the centre in ink: ‘No 375 | 7 <pa> leaves of pencil sketches | & manuscript [...] & | diagrams –. perspective | HS Trimmer’, and initialled in pencil ‘C.L.E.’ and ‘JPK’ below, near the centre of the page.
Judy Egerton renders Turner’s quotation from the Roman poet Virgil (whose Aeneid inspired many of his paintings) as ‘We’re not all capable of everything’. She suggests that it is a ‘rueful admission’ – albeit private – of his difficulties with perspective or at least the preparations for his Royal Academy lectures on the subject,2 with which many notes in this sketchbook are concerned.
1
Virgil, Eclogues, VIII.63.
2
Egerton 1980, p.[1]; see also Anthony Bailey, Standing in the Sun: A Life of J.M.W. Turner, London 1997, p.149.
Technical notes:
There is some mottled staining or foxing to the sheet, apparently caused by proximity to front board or the glue with which the sheet is pasted down to its backing of laid paper, forming part of the construction of the bellows-type pocket inside the cover.

Matthew Imms
June 2008

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