Joseph Mallord William Turner

List of Subscribers (Inscriptions by Turner)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Support: 185 × 118 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXVII 2

Catalogue entry

Here, and on folios 2 verso and 5 verso of the sketchbook (D05379, D05399; Turner Bequest LXXXVII 4, 24), Turner lists subscribers to Charles Turner’s mezzotint after his picture The Shipwreck (Tate N00476).1 See Introduction to the sketchbook for the picture and the subject. Accounts which must relate to production or sales of the print are on folios 2, 3 and 30 verso (D05378, D05380, D05425; Turner Bequest LXXXVII 3, 5, 50). Charles Turner (1773–1857), who had studied with his namesake (no relation) at the Royal Academy Schools, proposed to issue a mezzotint of the picture at his own expense shortly after it was exhibited at Turner’s Gallery in 1805. He published a prospectus inviting subscriptions for standard impressions at two guineas and proofs at four, to be available by the end of the year. In fact, although the first engraver’s proof was ready by the summer of 1806, the plate was only published on 1 January 1807.
The project was a turning point for both painter and engraver. It was the first time a Turner painting was engraved and attracted widespread interest among leading collectors – including Sir John Leicester, the original purchaser of the picture – and fellow artists, as these lists show. It seems also to have encouraged Turner to proceed with his project for the Liber Studiorum, plates of characteristic varieties of landscape, for which Charles Turner was chosen as the mezzotint engraver and for which a sketch for a proposed title page is on folio 14 verso of the sketchbook (D05385; Turner Bequest LXXXVII 10). William Frederick Wells, the artist who is said to have first suggested the Liber, is named here along with his family and colleagues in the Society of Painters in Water-Colours (founded in 1804) on whose behalf he had evidently obtained impressions of The Shipwreck. The subscribers’ names are as follows, with their identities where known. All are written in ink except ‘Col Fisher’ who is named in pencil. Presumably when subscriptions were received or prints delivered, many names (given here with a cross) were struck through in pencil and a few (identified by an asterisk) in ink. Quantities or types of plates (for example proofs) are indicated in some cases.

David Blayney Brown
December 2005

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984 , p.43 no.54 (pl. 64).

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