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: 115 × 76 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CII 3

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). Finberg transcribed only the first four lines on this leaf and the reading given here was first made by Rosalind Mallord Turner for the 1990 Tate exhibition:
Few the sweets that Autumn yields
The enfeebled Bee forsakes the fields
The drooping year the shortend day
No glittering rays o’er fallows play
Th[r]o thickened Ether doubtful peeps the dawn
The humid air bedecks with drops the thorn
Few gilded Mornings chears the skies
But fog or Mist o’er Uplands flies
Sighs th[r]o the branching Beeches mossy grown
On Knockholt’s a[i]ry hills to [every inserted] season thrown
Hail Silver Thames far famed Augusta’s pride
On thy broad wave lo crowded navies glide
Far in high horizon trace the extended sail
That Commerce sends to brave the Winter gale
The last six lines or versions of them are also written in pencil.
Knockholt, Kent, was known for its beech-woods which Turner had painted from nature, circa 1799–1801.1 From 1801, it was the home of his friend, the artist William Frederick Wells whom he often visited at harvest time.

David Blayney Brown
March 2007

Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.25–8 nos.35a–d, i (pls.40–2, 43).

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