Joseph Mallord William Turner

Verses (Inscription by Turner)

c.1808

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Ink on paper
Dimensions
Support: 115 × 76 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D06732
Turner Bequest CII 6 a

Catalogue entry

For the longer draft poems to which Turner’s verses belong, see Introduction to the sketchbook and note to folio 1 verso (D06722) where there is a different version of the lines written here. Finberg did not transcribe the verses on this leaf and the reading given here was first made by Rosalind Mallord Turner for the 1990 Tate exhibition:
For th[ee] he braves the rugged northern skies
Explored the Greenland icey bay
To open to golden shore another [shorter inserted] way
For the North West Pass. in vain was tried
[The daring Willoughby for the unshaken inserted]
For thee the daring Willoughby died
With stiffning sails the congelating [plies inserted] tide
But Willoughby in frozen regions died
As on 1 verso, Turner writes of the explorer Hugh Willoughby and his death trapped in ice on the coast near Murmansk while trying to find a North-East Passage for the Company of Merchant Adventurers in 1553. He also alludes to the ‘North-West Passage’, a holy grail of adventurers for two centuries who hoped to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans north of the American continent; it had been the object of Captain Cook’s third voyage in 1776. It is mentioned again in verses on folio 8 verso (D06736).
Also written on this leaf, below Turner’s verse, are two lines of Latin, not quite legible.

David Blayney Brown
March 2007

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