Joseph Mallord William Turner

St. Herbert’s Chapel, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 241 × 307 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 180

Catalogue entry

This vignette, St. Herbert’s Chapel was published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems, illustrating Part II of a long poem entitled ‘The Pleasures of Memory’.1 It was engraved by Henry le Keux.2 The chapel is named after the Christian saint who dwelt for many years on a small island known as St Herbert’s Isle, located in the Lake of Derwentwater. The following description appears toward the end of ‘The Pleasures of Memory’, when Rogers tells the tragic tale of Julia and her lover Florio. The story is set in the Lake District and mentions Lodore and Keswick Lake, as well as St Herbert’s Chapel:
When evening tinged the lake’s ethereal blue,
And her deep shades irregularly threw;
Their shifting sail dropt gently from the cove,
Down by St. Herbert’s consecrated grove;
Whence erst the chanted hymn, the tapered rite
Amused the fisher’s solitary night:
And still the mitred window, richly wreathed,
A sacred calm thro’ the brown foliage breathed.
And now the moon had dimmed, with dewy ray.
The few fine flushes of departing day;
O’er the wide water’s deep serene she hung,
And her broad lights on every mountain flung
(Poems, pp.40–1)
Turner marked his initials in pencil by the first lines of this section in the margin of his own copy of the 1827 edition of Poems (see Tate; Turner Bequest CCCLVI p.47). As with Keswick Lake (see Tate D27698; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 181), he allows Rogers’s romantic description to set the tone and content of his illustration. The cool blue palette and prominent moon both echo details from the text. Turner has even included a solitary fisherman in the right-hand foreground, a detail that enhances the ‘sacred calm’ evoked by this scene.
Jan Piggott has observed that Turner modeled the chapel shown here after Eton College Chapel.3 In doing so, he may have referred to his earlier on-site sketches of the building (see for example Tate D06344, D06354, D16358; Turner Bequest XCVIII 134a, 136a, 90a, and Tate D06087; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 90a).
Samuel Rogers, Poems, London 1834, p.40.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A, vol.II, London 1913, no.379. There are two impressions in Tate’s collection (T04674 and T06162).
Piggott 1993, p.83.
Inscribed by unknown hands in pencil ‘14’ upper centre left and ’20 | a’ centre and ‘CCLXXX 180’ bottom centre and ‘A’ and ‘D27685’ bottom left and ‘D27697’ bottom right. Also in red ink ‘1040’ top right, inverted
Stamped in black ‘CCLXXX 180’ lower centre

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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