Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lake of Como, II (A Farewell), for Rogers’s ‘Italy’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour, graphite and pen and ink on paper
Support: 245 × 305 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 150

Catalogue entry

This vignette, engraved by Robert Wallis, appears as the head-piece for the final chapter of Rogers’s Italy, entitled ‘A Farewell’.1 Rogers indicates in a note that this poem was written on 1 May 1822 in Susa, a Piedmontese city located just below the Great St Bernard Pass. The verses deliver a heartfelt adieu to Italy:
And now farewell to Italy – perhaps
For ever! Yet, methinks, I could not go,
I could not leave it, were it mine to say,
‘Farewell for ever!’
But now a long farewell! Oft, while I live,
If once again in England, once again
In my own chimney-nook, as Night steals on,
With half-shut eyes reclining, oft, methinks,
While the wind blusters and the pelting rain
Clatters without, shall I recall to mind
The scenes, occurrences, I met with here
And wander in Elysium...
(Italy, pp.233–5)
Turner himself seems to have remembered Rogers’s verses when, upon his departure from Rome in 1828, he began a manuscript poem beginning with the words, ‘Farewell a second time to the Land of all bliss’. Cecilia Powell however, has suggested that this may also refer to another poem, ‘Farewell to Italy’ in William Sotheby’s Italy and Other Poems of 1828.2
Although the vignette is now commonly known as The Farewell after the title of the section it illustrates, it was originally published in the portfolio and quarto editions as Lake of Como II.3 Even though the topographical location is clearly indicated there has nonetheless been some confusion over the subject. Finberg, following Ruskin, described it as Isola Bella, Lago Maggiore.4 While this identification is incorrect, it is not without reason. As Jan Piggott has noted, The Farewell bears a clear resemblance to Isola Bella. On the Lago Maggiore, circa 1817 (untraced),5 a watercolour that Turner produced for Hakewill’s Picturesque Tour of Italy based upon Hakewill’s own camera obscura drawing dated June 1817.6 The villa itself, as well as the mountainous background surrounding the lake, appears to be closely related to this earlier drawing.
Samuel Rogers, Italy, London 1830, p.233; W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.372. There is one impression in Tate’s collection (T04670).
Powell 1987, p.165.
Piggott 1993, p.97.
Cook and Wedderburn (eds.) 1903–12, vol.XIII, p.376 note 2. It most recently appeared under this title in Davies 1992, pp.77, 100.
Piggott 1993, p.38; Wilton 1979, no.716.
For a reproduction of Hakewill’s drawing, see Tony Cubberley, Luke Herrmann, and Valerie Scott, Twilight of the Grand Tour: a Catalogue of the Drawings by James Hakewill in the British School at Rome Library, Rome 1992, no.2.6, p.121.
Piggott 1993, p.38.
Powell 1983, p.13 note 74; A. J. Finberg, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., Oxford, 1961, p.304.
Quoted from Ruskin MS.54/C at Bembridge by John Gage (ed.), Collected Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 1980, p.278.
Powell 1983, p.8.

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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