Joseph Mallord William Turner

Verses (Inscriptions by Turner)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 180 × 107 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CI 88

Catalogue entry

See Introduction and note to folio 85 verso of the sketchbook (D06709) for the background and subject of these verses, the demolition of Alexander Pope’s villa at Twickenham. Rosalind Mallord Turner’s reading published in the 1990 Tate catalogue is adopted here:
As my son could behold the [?respected rich]
Alexis name your mercy would reach
He thou oft has told me left the shade
of Beau[t]ifull Binfield and a Grotto made
Where silver Thames with [but A] scouts
With silver and g[old] facing every court
Him shew how hast said call Windsor gr[eat?]
At on[c]e the Monarchs and the Masters seat
Amidst his house sank
& your Thames so Thomson to fame
‘Alexis’ refers to Pope himself, as in the verses on folios 86 and 86 verso of the sketchbook (D06710, D06711); the grotto is Pope’s also, the most famous feature of his villa; and as a boy Pope lived at Binfield in Windsor Forest. Here, Windsor is not only the home of royalty but the setting for Pope’s Windsor Forest (1713) describing Thames scenery. Thomson is James Thomson, Pope’s younger contemporary as a poet and author of the Seasons (1730).

David Blayney Brown
December 2006

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