Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inscriptions not by Turner: Executors’ Endorsement and Later Notes

after 1845

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Support: 198 × 160 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

This roughly-sheared slip of paper is a vestige of this sketchbook’s early life in the national collection and bears inscriptions by John Ruskin and the executors of Turner’s estate. Although unique in the Turner Bequest archive there is no obvious reason why such a document should have been preserved for this sketchbook in particular, and many more may once have existed.
The first inscription, in ink at the top of the sheet in the hand of Turner’s executor, Henry Scott Trimmer, records the now obsolete Turner Bequest schedule number and a brief description of the volume in its mid nineteenth-century state: ‘17. Book of 15 coloured sketches of | Marines, bearing date May, 1845. | (Two on back and front of leaf.)’. The latter bracketed note refers to the fact that D35395 and D35397 (Turner Bequest CCCLVII 10, 11) appear on the reverse respectively of D35396 and D35398 (Turner Bequest CCCLVII 10a, 11a). The ink note immediately below, ‘stamped HST G.J. CT.’, refers to the sketchbook’s ‘endorsement’, or guarantee of authenticity, by Turner’s executors. The initials are those of Trimmer, George Jones, and Charles Turner. The pencilled initials at the bottom right of this leaf – ‘C.L.E.’ and ‘JPK’ – belong to Charles Lock Eastlake and John Prescott Knight, also as part of the endorsement process. Such inscriptions are normally to be found inside the front or back of the sketchbook itself rather than on a separate sheet; the ‘red cloth covers’ recorded by Finberg in this instance1 are now untraced, as the book was broken up after the publication of his Inventory in 1909.
The ink inscription across the middle of the sheet in the hand of John Ruskin records his decision to send this sketchbook as part of a consignment of works for long loan to the University of Oxford.2 Apparently he had difficulty finding the dated inscriptions mentioned by Trimmer on the same document: ‘Now chosen for No 238 of Oxford. | JR. 1878 | but I can’t find date 1845.’ See the Introduction to the sketchbook for Turner’s unusually precise dating of some of the drawings.
Finberg 1909, II, p.1167.
See E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (eds.), Library Edition: The Works of John Ruskin: Volume XIII: Turner: The Harbours of England; Catalogues and Notes, London 1904, p.568 no.8; Finberg 1909, vol.II, p.1167.

John Chu
December 2013

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