Joseph Mallord William Turner

Study for ‘A Country Blacksmith’; with Inscriptions by Turner: Accounts

c.1807–10

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 69 x 112 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D08295
Turner Bequest CXXII 8

Catalogue entry

The inscriptions severely obscure an existing pencil drawing, not recorded by Finberg, made with the page held horizontally. It shows the interior of a blacksmith’s forge, with a man standing on the left corresponding to the protagonist of Turner’s painting A Country Blacksmith Disputing upon the Price of Iron, and the Price Charged to the Butcher for Shoeing his Poney, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1807 (Tate N00478).1 There are further studies for the picture on the verso of this leaf and folio 9 recto (D08296, D08297), and other forge views on folios 4 recto and 5 recto (D08288, D08290).
Most of the page is taken up with accounts in ink, except the second line in pencil, written with book turned vertically. The upper part of the inscription is disrupted by ink offsetting from other accounts on folio 7 verso opposite (D08294):
300      3 per Cents.  
     Sold Feb 18 – 100  
200     Left 
     
250      Reduced 
409 .  11d  B. 3 Dec  159 0 11d 
562 11.5  Bt Jan 12   153 . 9 9 
     Jan 11 Pd 5£ deposit for 10 
     Shares in the Atlas F O.ffice
     April 2 Bt [...] 
812   11 5   Bt [...] 28 June    250 
969   15 6   Bt 12 July          157.4.1 
1069  15 6   Bt 11 Nov   . . .   100 
Right by the Octr Dividend 
The left-hand column, ending with £1069, fifteen shillings and sixpence, represents a running total of the various transactions detailed on the right.
‘Atlas F O.ffice’ presumably refers to the fire insurance business of the Atlas Assurance Company, which was founded in 1808, existing independently until 1959.2 The word ‘Atlas’ appears again on D40900, the verso of Turner Bequest CXXII (4),3 which is datable to 1810 or so. Like those on the page opposite, the present accounts are also likely to date from 1810. The last lines here match ‘1069. 15. 6 Right in Oct’ in the Hastings sketchbook (Tate D07685; Turner Bequest CXI 58a), on a page which includes the date 1810. ‘3 per Cents’ and ‘Reduced’ are types of stocks; for more on Turner’s finances as set out in the extensive notes in this sketchbook, see the Introduction.

Matthew Imms
September 2013

1
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.52–3 no.68, pl.78 (colour).
2
See ‘About Us’, Guardian Financial Services, accessed 29 April 2013, http://www.guardianfs.co.uk/about_us/; see also Finberg 1961, p.171, and Bailey 1997, p.109.
3
Both instances are indexed in Finberg 1909, II, p.1262, as ‘Atlas Insurance Co.’

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