after Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tours, Looking Backwards, engraved by F.C. Lewis


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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
After Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Aquatint on paper
Image: 130 × 189 mm
Purchased 1988

Display caption

This is one of two aquatints based on Turner's Loire subjects by Frederick Christian Lewis (the other is a view of the chateau at Nantes from the Cours St-Pierre). Lewis had worked with Turner on the Liber Studiorum, but their working relationship had been difficult. It is not known when Lewis made the two aquatints. One theory is that they were created in the late 1820s as a means of establishing in what form the Loire images should be published. Another possibility is that Lewis sought to make pirate editions of some of the set for his own gain. Shortly after the publication of Turner's set, his images were reworked by others in both Britain and France.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

T05198 Tours, Looking Backwards engr. F.C. Lewis

Aquatint 130 × 189 (5 1/8 × 7 7/16) on wove paper 299 × 451 (11 15/16 × 17 3/4); plate-mark 216 × 280 (8 1/2 × 11)
Purchased (Grant-in-Aid) 1988
Prov: ...; N.W. Lott and H.J. Gerrish Ltd, from whom bt by Tate Gallery
Lit: Rawlinson II 1913, no.831, engraver's proof

This plate by F.C. Lewis is based on a watercolour in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (Wilton 1979, no.940). The same watercolour was also published as a steel-engraving by Richard Wallis for Turner's Annual Tour -- the Loire, 1833 (Rawlinson II 1913, no.442; see T04688). The date of Lewis's engraving is not known, as the print was never published. However, it seems most likely to have been made around the mid- to late-1820s, this being the period when Turner's original water-colour was executed and when Turner and Lewis were at the height of their collaboration (see under T04821).

Another aquatint after a Loire watercolour by Turner, ‘Promenade on the Ramparts of Nantes’ (Rawlinson II 1913, no.832), was embarked on by Lewis at about the same time but not published. Perhaps Turner originally considered publishing his drawings of French rivers as aquatints, then abandoned the idea when Charles Heath proposed volumes illustrated with steel-engravings (see under T04678-T04726).

A touched impression of this print is in a private collection in the UK. An original metal plate entitled ‘Tours’ was listed in the catalogue of the first of the Turner sales at Christie's, 24–8 March 1873 (929), and sold to Colnaghi's for seven guineas. It is possible that the plate was for this print, although it seems more likely that it corresponds to a misidentified subject for Turner's ‘Little Liber’.

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

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