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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Inscriptions by Turner: Accounts and a Financial Summary c.1810

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Inscriptions by Turner: Accounts and a Financial Summary c.1810
Pen and ink and pencil on white laid paper, 187 x 228 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pen and ink and pencil (see main catalogue entry)
Watermark including crown (truncated by bottom edge of sheet)
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The following accounts and summary of Turner’s assets are in pencil, except for the first four lines of the sum at the top left and the sum and notes at top right, which are in ink. As this is a working document, Turner made occasional corrections to the figures as he went – those shown below appear to be the intended amendments. The estimated tally of assets below runs to the foot of the sheet and then continues in a second column to the right of the central fold:
     R     2283 9 3              573 . 5 7
     C     773 5 7   573          250
     5     4110 1 4   200         823 5 7
           7166 16 2   773          50 –– Sold Augt 18
           7166 16 2               773 Sold Augt 25.
           7056               [?C]   50 |
                             [?C] S  723
                1300 Odds and Ends
                 500 Drawings for Liber Stu
                 200 Large Drawings
                 400 Sir John
                1000 Fawkes
                 200 Fuller
                10,600                13150
                 400 Richmond
                 100 Bucks           10450
                  50 Atlas
               11,150                colord sketches
                2000 Probable Advantage   300
                     of Liber Studiorum   300 Books Furniture
                13150                 Picture of last year
                1000 Loss            300
                 500 Richmond       11350
                1200 Expenses of [?Gallery]
This is one of a grouping of four loose papers kept in the integral pocket inside the front cover of the Finance sketchbook (D40898). One, D08356 (Turner Bequest CXXII (1)), is a receipt from a London coaching inn, with a delivery note on the back (D40899). Two others (D08357, D08358; Turner Bequest CXXII (2), (3)) are pre-printed Bank of England slips with manuscript additions. There are further accounts on the recto (D08359; Turner Bequest CXXII (4)). The figures at the top right also appear on one of the Bank of England slips (D08358), presumably filled in at or near the same time.
In his Life of Turner, Finberg provided a table of figures derived from those at the top left, clarifying Turner’s ‘R’, ‘C’ and ‘5’ stock categories:
                         £    s. d .
Reduced 3% Annuities   2,283  9  3 
Consolidated 3% d[itt]o  823  5  7 
Navy 5%                4,110  1  4 
                       7,216  16 2 
The second figure and consequently the total are both £50 greater than the ones Turner gives initially, and Finberg dates this state of affairs to 17 August 1810,1 presumably based on Turner’s supplementary note at the top right showing that he sold £50 of the Consolidated stock on 18 August, leaving £773 five shillings and seven pence; the year date ‘1810’ is inscribed on the recto (D08359; Turner Bequest CXXII (4)). The reckoning of the artist’s assets which followed was presumably compiled relatively shortly afterwards, perhaps by the end of the year;2 compare the listing on folio 36 recto (D08340), which has some elements in common with the present sheet.
‘7000’ at the head of the lower list presumably takes the rough figure for Turner’s holdings in stock from the top of the sheet. ‘1300 Odds and Ends’ occurs in the same form on folio 36 recto (D08340), where it may account for the total value placed on several batches of unsold paintings.
‘500 Drawings for Liber Stu’ and the ‘2000 Probable Advantage of Liber Studiorum’ further down refer respectively to the value of the watercolour studies for Turner’s Liber Studiorum landscape print series. For a discussion of these calculations within the wider context of the project, see the present author’s detailed Introduction to ‘Liber Studiorum c.1806–24’ section of this catalogue. Turner apparently at first intended to sell some or all of the studies, although most remained in his studio and are now part of the Turner Bequest. Most were trimmed, probably in anticipation of exhibition, and a figure of £500 is given here as their value3 (whether for the first fifty or so of the projected hundred designs or for the whole series is unclear, although Finberg thought the figure was for the first fifty4); notes of ‘500 drawing’ and ‘500 Supposed value of drawings after engraved’ also appear on a page of convoluted calculations of about 1809 or later (of three concerning the Liber) in the Hastings sketchbook (Tate D07747; Turner Bequest CXI 96a; see also D07748, D07749; CXI 97, 97a).5 Finberg suggested that the potential figure of £2000 profit for the whole series ‘may be thought unduly optimistic, but we must remember that the estimate applied to the completed undertaking of a hundred plates.’6 As it was, publication of the series dragged on until 1819, with only seventy plates and a frontispiece being completed, although many more studies and unpublished prints exist.
The unspecified ‘Large Drawings’ at £200 are presumably watercolours in hand or recently completed.
Turner’s patron ‘Sir John’ Leicester (later Lord de Tabley)7 owes £400 here;8 this possibly relates to the unannotated figure on folio 12 verso (D08302), and the same figure appears in the Hastings sketchbook as ‘400 Sir J’ (Tate D07671; Turner Bequest CXI 50). Leicester is also mentioned among the transactions on folios 7 verso and 36 recto (D08294, D08340). Walter ‘Fawkes’, a major patron and friend,9 ended up owing Turner large sums for the many pictures he acquired; his name also appears on D08294, and on D08340, where the amount by his name is a mere ‘500’; here it is ‘1000’.10 John (‘Jack’) Fuller11 owes £200 here; he is also mentioned on the recto (D08359). For Turner’s wider involvement with Fuller from 1810 onwards, see David Blayney Brown’s Introduction to the ‘East Sussex c.1806–20’ section of the present catalogue.
‘400 Richmond’ was interpreted by Finberg as the price paid for land at Twickenham (across the Thames from Richmond) as the site of the house the artist would build there in about 1812–13.12 In his account of Turner’s house, Sandycome Lodge, Patrick Youngblood disputed this, suggesting that the figure represents an asset ‘and therefore could not possibly refer to a property purchase’, proposing that it ‘almost certainly’13 indicates the painting Richmond Hill and Bridge, exhibited in 1808 (Tate N00557).14 On the other hand, that picture appears to be listed on folio 36 recto (D08340) in a batch of four marked at ‘200’, either per work, or perhaps more likely for the lot. The subsequent entry here, ‘100 Bucks’,15 refers to Turner’s cottage and land at Lee Clump, Buckinghamshire, recently acquired for around £100; see folio 8 verso (D08296) for his more detailed notes and further discussion. That the latter item is listed by Turner as an asset (i.e. at its potential resale value) seems to negate Youngblood’s objection to ‘400 Richmond’ also referring to property, and anyway he notes that inscriptions elsewhere may indicate that £400 was indeed the price of the Twickenham plot (or plots, since Turner acquired a second piece of land nearby at the same time).16 For further discussion see the Introduction to the present author’s ‘Sandycombe Lodge c.1808–12’ section of this catalogue. There is a second ‘Richmond’ entry on this list, this time marked as a liability, as discussed below. Another property-related entry follows, as ‘Atlas’ presumably refers to the Atlas Assurance Company, founded in 1808, which existed independently until 1959.17 A note of ‘Shares in the Atlas F[ire] O.ffice’ appears on folio 8 recto (D08295).18
Up to the ‘2000’ Liber Studiorum note, the entries are all for assets. The next three entries are losses, combined as ‘2700’ at the top of the second column and deducted from the ‘13150’ accumulated so far. Finberg suggests the unspecified ‘1000 loss’ represented ‘a bad debt’,19 while the combined liability of £1700 made up of ‘500 Richmond’ and ‘1200 Expenses of [?Gallery]’ (the reading of the latter word is highly speculative) was the amount ‘he was apparently thinking of spending on his gallery and on his house in Twickenham’.20 A note of about 1809–12 in the Sandycombe and Yorkshire sketchbook (Tate D08967; Turner Bequest CXXVII 3) itemises ‘400 Purchase | 400 Building | 100 Grounds’, which may tally with the ‘400 Richmond’ figure here suggested as the cost of the land, together with a total of £500 to develop the house and garden (i.e. the ‘500 Richmond’ figure here). The ‘1200 expenses’ may relate, at least in part, to the alterations which necessitated the closure of Turner’s own gallery behind Harley Street and Queen Anne Street West during 1811, when he did not hold one of his annual exhibitions.21
Returning to assets after deducting these items in the second column, further ‘Colord sketches’ are listed at £300.Meanwhile Turner valued his ‘Books’ and ‘furniture’ at £300.22 Finberg suggested23 that the ‘Picture of last year | 300’ was Sun Rising through Vapour; Fishermen Cleaning and Selling Fish, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1807 and again at the British Institution in 1809 (Turner Bequest, National Gallery London),24 a year before the likely date of these notes; it was also exhibited at Turner’s gallery in 1810. (By the end of the year it was apparently at Sir John Leicester’s London gallery, on approval at ‘Pretium 300 Gs –’ as Turner noted;25 Leicester later acquired it for 350 guineas and Turner bought it back from his estate in 1827 for 490).26
Turner thus reckoned these assets of about 1810 at £11,350, having allowed for actual or potential outgoings of £2700, without which the total would have been £14,050. So, as Finberg noted,27 ‘if he decided to spend £1,200 on his gallery and house in Queen Ann[e] Street, and another £500 on a House at Twickenham, he could afford to do so without much risk of ruining himself’.28
The initial figure of £2283 nine shillings and three pence, referring to Reduced stocks, occurs elsewhere on folios 12 verso, 13 recto and 15 recto (D8302, D08303, D08307), as well as in the Hastings sketchbook (Tate D07670, D07683, D07685; Turner Bequest CXI 49, 57a, 58a); the figure of £4110 one shilling and four pence also occurs in the latter book, on D07683 and D07685, and in the present one on folio 13 recto (D08303). The figure ‘723’ towards the top right may relate to a similar amount on the recto (D08359). For more on Turner’s finances as set out in the extensive notes in this sketchbook, see the Introduction.
Finberg 1961, p.170; transcription and dating followed in Bailey 1997, p.108, and Powell 2001, p.107.
See Finberg 1909, I, p.337, footnote†, and Finberg 1924, p.lxxxi.
See also Finberg 1924, p.lxxxi–ii; Finberg 1961, p.172; Forrester 1996, pp.51 note 2, 159.
Finberg 1961, p.172.
See Finberg 1909, I, pp.302–3 (with transcription), Finberg 1924, p.lxxxi, and Forrester 1996, p.159 (with transcription).
Finberg 1961, p.172; see also Wilkinson 1982, p.7.
See Charles Sebag-Montefiore, ‘Leicester, Sir John Fleming (1762–1827)’ in Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, pp.164–5.
See Bailey 1997, p.109.
See James Hamilton, ‘Fawkes, Walter Ramsden (1769–1825)’ in Joll, Butlin and Herrmann 2001, pp.103–5.
See Finberg 1912, p.4, Hill, Warburton and Tussey 1980, p.35, Hill 1980, p.5, Hill and Densley 1988, p.12, and Bailey 1997, pp.109, 216.
See Robert Upstone, ‘Fuller, Jack [John]’ in Joll, Butlin and Herrmann 2001, p.117.
See Finberg 1961, pp.171, 192, and Bailey 1997, p.109.
Youngblood 1982, p.22.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.56 no.73, pl.83.
Finberg 1961, p.171, gives the price as ‘£102’, following his own transcription (Finberg 1909, I, p.337) of the notes here, though Turner’s figure is a round ‘100’.
See Youngblood 1982, pp.22, 34 note 43.
See ‘About Us’, Guardian Financial Services, accessed 29 April 2013, http://www.guardianfs.co.uk/about_us/.
Both instances are indexed in Finberg 1909, II, p.1262, as ‘Atlas Insurance Co.’
Finberg 1924, p.lxxxii.
See Luke Herrmann, ‘Turner’s Gallery and Exhibitions’ in Joll, Butlin and Herrmann 2001, pp.349–50; see also James Hamilton, ‘Harley Street’ and ‘Queen Anne Street West’ in ibid., pp.135 and [252].
See also the posthumous listings of the contents of Turner’s library and his Queen Anne Street house in Andrew Wilton, Turner in his Time, London 1987, pp.246–8 (and 2006 ed., pp.246–7), and David Blayney Brown and Rosalind Mallord Turner, Turner’s Gallery, House and Library, exhibition catalogue, Clore Gallery, Tate Britain, London 2001.
See Finberg 1909, I, p.337, footnote†, and Finberg 1961, p.172; see also Egerton 1998, p.271 note 17.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.53–4 no.69, pl.79 (colour).
John Gage, Collected Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner with an Early Diary and a Memoir by George Jones, Oxford 1980, p.45 letter no.36.
See Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.53–4, and Egerton 1998, pp.268–9.
Finberg 1961, p.172; see also Bailey 1997, p.109.
Finberg 1961, p.172.
Technical notes:
The bottom edge is slightly irregular, as the sheet appears from its truncated watermark to be the top half of a larger one torn in two. It has been folded three times into halves, quarters and eighths to fit neatly into the pocket in the front cover of the Finance sketchbook along with three other financial documents. It was previously folded along roughly the same lines, into quarters with various further vertical creases.

Matthew Imms
September 2013

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Inscriptions by Turner: Accounts and a Financial Summary c.1810 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, September 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-inscriptions-by-turner-accounts-and-a-financial-summary-r1147840, accessed 23 June 2024.