Joseph Mallord William Turner

Vignette Study: ?for Campbell’s ‘Poetical Works’

c.1835–6

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 179 × 250 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D27593
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 76

Catalogue entry

This work is one of a group of more than thirty watercolour studies in the Turner Bequest that appear to be preparatory sketches for Campbell’s Poetical Works. They are all painted on cheap, lightweight paper and executed in a rough, loose style. This simple study appears to show the beginnings of a landscape scene with several figures added in pencil at the bottom of the composition. However, the subject is too vague to be conclusively linked to any of Turner’s finished Campbell illustrations.
Technical notes:
Peter Bower has noted that this study is made on off-white low-grade machine-made cartridge paper. The maker is unknown and there is no watermark. This paper would have been relatively cheap to buy and was inferior to standard drawing papers. Turner has used the ‘felt’ side of the sheet which has slightly more texture than the ‘wire’ side, allowing better adhesion of pigment and graphite to the surface of the sheet. Many of Turner’s vignette studies were made on a similar grade of machine-made paper, and the artist employed the ‘felt’ side on all of them.1
1
Bower 1999, p.59.
Verso:
Inscribed by an unknown hand in pencil ‘CCLXXX 76’ bottom left, descending left-hand edge

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

Read full Catalogue entry

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