Joseph Mallord William Turner

Reading Abbey; with an Inscription by Turner: The Categories of the ‘Liber Studiorum’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 69 × 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXII 25

Catalogue entry

On the right, inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation, is a slight pencil continuation of the drawing of Reading Abbey on folio 24 verso opposite (D08320), under which the subject is discussed.
The outer half of the page is taken up with the following, written with the page turned vertically:
            <1 Marine>
            <2 Pastoral>
               Epic Compositions   1
               Compositions        2
               Pastoral            3
               Marine              4
This list relates to Turner’s Liber Studiorum series of landscape prints, which had its origins in 1806. The first two lines are cancelled with two large ink ‘X’s, but John Gage has interpreted the remaining terms as relating respectively to the Liber’s Historical, EP, Pastoral, Marine and Architectural categories, with ‘epic’ thus equating with ‘historical’1 – as Gillian Forrester concurs, ‘Epic is a narrative form’.2
The presence of this note has determined this sketchbook’s placement within a grouping of Liber-related material (see the sketchbook’s Introduction). The wording’s significance is discussed in the context of the Liber’s scope and categorisation in the present author’s overall Introduction to the separate ‘Liber Studiorum c.1806–24’ section of this catalogue.

Matthew Imms
September 2013

Gage 1987, p.250 note 53.
Forrester 1996, p.31.

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