after Joseph Mallord William Turner

O’Connor’s Child


Not on display

After Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Line engraving on paper
Image: 92 × 68 mm
Purchased 1986

Catalogue entry

[from] Campbell's ‘Poetical Works’ pub.1837 [T04764-T04785; complete]

Twenty-two line-engravings, by various engravers and in various states, comprising twenty subjects out of a total of twenty-one; various papers and sizes; some touched with pencil; most stamped with Turner studio blind stamp Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1986
Prov: ...; N.W.Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Lit: Mordechai Omer, Turner and the Poets, exh. cat., Marble Hill House 1975; Andrew Wilton, Turner and the Sublime, exh. cat., British Museum 1980; Turner's Illustrations for thePoetical Works of Thomas Campbell’, exh. cat., National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh 1988

Turner produced twenty vignettes for The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell, published by Edward Moxon in 1837. The circumstances surrounding the commission are extremely confused. According to the engraver, Edward Goodall, Turner was to have been paid £30 for each design, while Goodall and Moxon divided the costs and profits equally between them. Because of problems with the engraver's contract, which Goodall believed would land him in severe financial difficulties, he persuaded Turner to lease the drawings to the publisher at £5 each, Turner thus retaining possession of them. On the other hand Campbell's biographer, William Beattie, states that the poet bought the watercolours for twenty-five guineas each, apparently hoping that they would prove a good investment. However, when Campbell attempted to sell them, he could find no buyers. In about 1842 he met Turner by chance and sold them back to him for 200 guineas. This second version seems to chime more accurately with Turner's character but both stories demonstrate the type of problem which often occurred between Turner and his publishers. Unlike the illustrations that Turner made for Samuel Rogers, he did not maintain possession of these for Campbell; by 1896 they belonged to Sir Donald Currie and passed by descent to Mrs D. Fergusson, from whom they were acquired in 1988 by the National Gallery of Scotland.

All the plates were engraved on steel and were executed by engravers who were by now extremely proficient in translating Turner's designs for book illustrations. They were: Edward Goodall (1795–1870), who executed the majority of the plates, Robert Wallis (1794–1878) and William Miller (1796–1882). Rawlinson implies that all engravers' proofs for the project were printed on Colombier quarto paper, although the majority of engravers' proofs in this set are printed on India paper.

On acquisition by the Tate Gallery, this fine set ofunmounted engravers' proofs was enclosed in a folder inscribed ‘Illustrations to T. Campbell's Works by J.M.W. Turner’. Some have since been removed and mounted. Rawlinson states that ‘In this Series very few Engravers’ Proofs seem to have been taken. Turner was given his usual fifty sets, and these, along with a few touched proofs, appeared at the Turner Sales in 1873–4. It is seldom that others are met with'. Most of the plates in this group are indeed from Turner's studio, since they bear his monogram blind stamp, and it seems likely that in fact all these engravings, whether stamped or not, were once in the artist's possession. According to Christie's sale catalogue, all the illustrations to Campbell's Poetical Works from Turner's studio were sold at auction on 23 April 1873.

T04770 O'Connor's Child engr. E. Goodall

Line-engraving, vignette, approx. 92 × 71 (3 5/8 × 2 13/16) on India paper laid on wove paper 435 × 302 (17 1/8 × 11 7/8); plate-mark 293 × 152 (11 9/16 × 6); faint mark of Turner studio blind stamp b.r. of image
Prov: As for T04764
Lit: Rawlinson II 1913, no.618, engraver's proof

Engraver's proof of plate published on p.66, ‘O'Connor's Child’. Original watercolour: National Gallery of Scotland (Wilton 1979, no.1276).

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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