J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours was first conceived at the British Museum, as a revision of A.J. Finberg’s Complete Catalogue of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest (1909) and moved to the Tate Gallery on the opening of the Clore Gallery for the Turner Collection in 1987. During the project’s gestation, the Tate team has sought the help and advice of many people. I should like to express here our profound gratitude to the contributors and all those who have generously assisted us in our work.
Special thanks are due to Andrew Wilton, leading scholar in the fields of Turner studies, historic British art, and watercolours and drawings. The inspiration for the catalogue was his and he brought the project with him from the British Museum to Millbank as, successively, curator of the Turner Collection in the Clore Gallery, Keeper of British Art and latterly Senior Research Fellow. In this last capacity he has undertaken the first section of the catalogue, consisting of works up to c.1801, contributed further material, and generously shared his scholarship and knowledge with the team.
Under Wilton’s leadership a team of Tate curators, including Ann Chumbley, Diane Perkins, Anne Lyles, Robert Upstone and Ian Warrell, began preliminary research for the catalogue. Generous sponsorship from the British importers of Volkswagen, and then from Nuclear Electric among others, supported a series of Turner Scholarships and brought established and new scholars to work on aspects of the collection. The late Fred Bachrach, Peter Bower, Maurice Davies, Gillian Forrester, James Hamilton, Jan Piggott, Cecilia Powell and Eric Shanes, as well as legions of other Turnerians working in the last half or quarter of the twentieth century, have contributed immeasurably in building secure foundations for the catalogue. Very special thanks must go to Rosalind Mallord Turner for many years of practical and material support; and to Eric Shanes for agreeing to exchange material with us relative to his new biography of Turner.
A crucial preliminary stage in the development of a Tate catalogue was the digital imaging and indexing of the Turner collection, undertaken in 2000–2 as part of the Insight Project, led by Oliver Vicars-Harris with Rachel Bhandari, Maggie Hills, Matthew Imms and Tessa Meijer. With the accessioning, led by Graham Peters, of Turner Bequest works on paper on their transfer to the Tate from the British Museum, this Insight project work created the electronic framework to which detailed catalogue material could be added. Early in the new millennium, with the support of Director Nicholas Serota and Deputy Director Alex Beard, it was decided to take the catalogue forward as an online project, addressing the collection comprehensively and in detail, and incorporating works from Tate’s collection beyond the Bequest.
The writing of sample entries and the refinement of the structure, content and taxonomy of the catalogue as an electronic publication were supported initially by the Deborah Loeb Brice Foundation and The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. The Samuel H. Kress Foundation supported two American contributing fellows, Andrea Fredericksen and Meredith Gamer. Critical impetus for work at Tate came with Trustee funding, running from five years to spring 2012, and providing for a dedicated team under my leadership; this consisted of Thomas Ardill, Matthew Imms and Nicola Moorby as cataloguers, Helen Evans as paper conservator, and Tate’s other Turner specialist, Ian Warrell, as a supporting contributor. Despite many other commitments Ian Warrell was seminal to the planning of the later sections of the catalogue while Matthew Imms helped greatly to ease the burden of documenting the progress of the project and has also undertaken the lion’s share of editing the first section. To all of ‘Team Turner’, heartfelt thanks.
At Tate Britain the project has had the support of successive Directors, Stephen Deuchar and Penelope Curtis; and the heads of collections and curatorial departments, from Jeremy Lewison to Ann Gallagher, have endorsed the immense commitment of time and resources required to progress it. From 2010 to early 2012 Professor Nigel Llewellyn, Head of Research, helped steer the project, giving much advice and moral support. Thereafter Jennifer Mundy, Head of Collection Research, assumed responsibility for the overall management and publication of the project, which will continue to lead to new entries and supporting texts. Their leadership has been fundamental.
Among curatorial colleagues past and present, many have given specialist help or wider inspiration; especially Martin Butlin, the late Judy Egerton and Leslie Parris, Robin Hamlyn, Anne Lyles, Martin Postle, Alison Smith and Martin Myrone. A new generation, notably my colleague Amy Concannon, is now to be welcomed for their contribution in bringing the project towards completion. Piers Townsend, Head of Paper Conservation and Joyce Townsend, Senior Conservation Scientist, have shared their skills and wisdom, in the latter case surveying samples of works and contributing technique and condition texts. Elsewhere in Collection Care, Julia Beaumont-Jones and Christine Kurpiel in the Prints and Drawings Room have been ever-patient and helpful.
It would have been impossible to realise this vast project without the enthusiastic collaboration and creativity of Tate’s Online and Information Systems teams. Particular thanks are owed to Diane Hall who has led their joint work; to Steve Hare for his careful editing and parsing of texts, John Sidney-Woollett for his building of the systems that support the presentation and functioning of the catalogue, Alex Pilcher for his elegant designs of the web pages, and James Davis for his work at an earlier stage. Together with the digital editor Alex Cary, they have worked extraordinarily hard to achieve a multi-layered but easily accessible set of texts within the recently redesigned presentation of Tate’s website. In this context I should also like to thank Rob Gethen Smith, Director of Information Systems, and John Stack, Head of Tate Online, for their supportive engagement with the delivery of this project.
The following individuals and institutions have been particularly helpful and supportive of our research:
Elizabeth E. Barker, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Jay A. Clarke, The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown.
Professor Stephen Daniels
The Dowager Lady Egremont
Guillaume Faroult, Louvre Museum, Paris
Gillian Forrester, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven
The late John Gage
Colin Harrison, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Professor Luke Herrmann
The late Nicholas Horton-Fawkes
The late Evelyn Joll
Kasper Monrad, Museum Statens for Kunst, Copenhagen
Professor Brian Livesley
The late Michael Lloyd
Andrew Loukes, The National Trust
Pieter van der Merwe, National Maritime Museum, London
Jane Munro, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
John and Virginia Murray
Christine Riding, National Maritime Museum, London
Christopher Rowell, The National Trust
Scott Schaeffer, Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Joanna Selborne, Courtauld Gallery, London
Kim Sloan, The British Museum, London
Professor Sam Smiles
Professor David Solkin
Gary Tinterow, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Professor William Vaughan
Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, The British School at Rome
The late David Wallace-Hadrill
The late Stanley Warburton
The late Henry Wemyss
Jon Whiteley, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
The late Robert Woof
The late Andrew Wyld