J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Accounts; Itinerary of the 1824 Meuse-Moselle Tour 1824

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
First Rear Flyleaf, Recto:
Accounts; Itinerary of the 1824 Meuse-Moselle Tour 1824
Turner Bequest CCXVI 270
Pencil and ink on white wove paper 118 x 78 mm
Inscribed in pencil and black ink by Turner with accounts and the itinerary of the 1824 tour (see main entry for a full transcription)
Inscribed in blue ink by Ruskin ‘270’ top right
Stamped in black ‘CCXVI–270’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This page is a rather untidy tangle of two sets of inscriptions, written by Turner at intervals in pencil and black ink. The first set has been inscribed with the sketchbook upturned, and shows a list of accounts. These financial calculations are most likely connected to similarly formatted accounts written on the folio opposite (Tate D20079; Turner Bequest CCXVI 269a). They probably represent income or expenditure and are dated for the year 1824, for the months of May and July. The entries in bold represent those inscribed in black ink. It is transcribed thus:
 1546     ––       4 May         20
 1507               21 May         10
18868              19 May         50
  3580              25 May         10
  1465              27 July          10
         9                                     50
The last entry of these accounts is dated 27 July 1824, just a fortnight or so before Turner set off for the continent to begin his tour of the Meuse-Moselle region. As Cecilia Powell writes, ‘it seems entirely natural’ that the artist ‘should have chosen this particular moment to take stock of his financial position’ before the commencement of an extensive tour, and ‘that he should have done so in the same notebook’ that he would use to record the tour itself.1
A few weeks later then, on this same sheet, Turner inscribed a dated itinerary of the 1824 Meuse-Moselle tour, writing out the schedule either in instalments as he went along or once the tour was complete. The itinerary was inscribed with the sketchbook turned in reverse to the accounts, and becomes legible when viewed in accordance with the foliation. Given that Turner’s sketchbooks and the drawings within them are rarely dated, this itinerary is a very valuable document indeed and has enabled art historians to more or less identify the exact days of each drawing’s creation. The schedule begins at 10 August 1824, when Turner left England, and concludes on 15 September at Calais. It is transcribed thus:
‘10   Left.                       xx  22   Sedan
 11   Calais                            23   Verdun
 12   Bruxelles                      24   Metz
 13   Liege                             25   Metz
 14   Huy   –  Sam                26   Luxemburg
 15   Liege                             27   Treves
 17 16 Namur                        28   Treves
 18   Dinant                            29   Numagen
 19   Givet                              30   Taerback
 20   Foumay                          31   Cochem     [...]
 21   Mez   –  Sam               –  1   Sept Coblentz
                                                   2   Sept Coblentz
                                                   3   Colon | Sundy
                                                 44   Liege
                                                   5   Bruxelles
                   ‘5 –                    5 | 6   Gand
 [?Mariel] Fortress                  7   Ostend
 30 [?years]  War [...]’          8   Dunkirk
                                                  W      9   Calais
                                                  T     10   Abbeville
                                                  F      11   Dieppe
                                         S     12   Dieppe Samedi
                                                 13   Abb
                                                 14   Cal
At several points Turner has added the initials of the days of the week, or shortened versions of them, next to the date of the month and place name. This apparently straightforward format is complicated by the fact that the artist inscribes three of those days of the week in French with the others in English and, in addition, that some of these annotations are in fact incorrect. The viewer will notice that the entries for 14 August, destination Huy, and 21 August, Metz, bear the inscription ‘Sam’ written to the right of the place name. In 1909 Finberg transcribed these annotations as ‘Sun’ to signify ‘Sunday’, and regarded them as applying to the dates on their right (i.e. – Sam 26 Luxemburg’). Decades later, in 1991, Cecilia Powell was the first scholar to identify that Finberg was incorrect on this matter, and that Turner was actually inscribing ‘Sam’ rather than ‘Sun’ to signify the French for Saturday: ‘Samedi’.2 Powell also discovered that the inscriptions ‘Sam’ applied to the dates on their left, for example: ‘14 Huy – Sam’ rather than ‘–Sam 26 Luxemburg’.3 Turner himself also made errors in his own annotations. The entries ‘W 9 Calais’ (signifying Wednesday 9 September at Calais, ‘T 10 Abbeville’, Thursday 10 September at Abbeville, and so on are incorrect. The 9th of September is in fact a Thursday, the 10th a Friday, and the 12th (labelled ‘S’ and annotated ‘Samedi’ for Saturday) is actually a Sunday.
Powell’s careful re-reading and correction of the itinerary enabled her to demonstrate that Finberg’s original dating of the first Meuse-Moselle tour was not 1826, as he had catalogued it, but rather 1824. For more information on the dating of this tour see the general Introduction to this tour.

Alice Rylance-Watson
June 2014

Powell 1991, p.39.
Ibid, pp.38–9.

How to cite

Alice Rylance-Watson, ‘Accounts; Itinerary of the 1824 Meuse-Moselle Tour 1824 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 2014, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, April 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-accounts-itinerary-of-the-1824-meuse-moselle-tour-r1174875, accessed 24 November 2020.