Joseph Mallord William Turner

Verse (Inscription by Turner)

c.1809–11

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 88 × 110 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D07704
Turner Bequest CXI 70 a

Catalogue entry

Rosalind Mallord Turner’s reading of Turner’s inscription for the 1990 Tate exhibition is largely followed here:
The Monstrous Python
Durst tempt thy wrath in vain for dead he fell
To thy great Strength and Golden Arms unequal
So while unerring hand Elanced
Another and another dart
     Callimachus
     Hymn to Apollo
On Et[n]a Gloomy cliffs o’erwhelmed he glowrs
There on his flinty bed outstretched he lies
Whose pointed rocks his tossing Carcass wounds
For verses on the slaughter of the dragon Python by Apollo in this sketchbook, and their background, see chiefly note to folio 17 (D07617). The first lines here are copied from Matthew Prior’s translation of Callimachus’s1 Hymn to Apollo, known to Turner from his copy of Robert Anderson’s Complete Edition of the Works of the British Poets (1795).2

David Blayney Brown
May 2011

1
Callimachus (circa 310–after 246 BC), Hellenistic poet.
2
For Turner’s library see Andrew Wilton, Turner in his Time, London 1987, pp.246–7.

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