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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Inscriptions by Turner: Colour Notes and Italian Phrases; ?Undulating Cloth 1819

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Inside Front Cover:
Inscriptions by Turner: Colour Notes and Italian Phrases; ?Undulating Cloth 1819
Pencil on white wove paper, 112 x 185 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil with various note (see main catalogue entry)
Inscribed in ink and pencil by later hands (see main catalogue entry)
Stamped in black ‘CLXXV’ top right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The intermittent sequence of letters ‘L G G G S O B B Green B R B G G O R P B B B L L’ is inscribed in pencil along the top edge of this paste-down. These are presumably in some sort of lateral order relating to architecture, an artwork or costume; at least some of the ‘G’s may alternatively be ‘Y’s. Presumably to save the time involved in making a visual record using actual colours, Turner occasionally resorted to a cluster or string of letters describing a colour structure without feeling the need to draw the forms themselves; see the 1802 Studies in the Louvre sketchbook for such a treatment of Raphael’s Transfiguration (Tate D04287; Turner Bequest LXXII 13), the composition of which would have been well known to him through monochrome engravings. Below to the left is written ‘24’ with a cross-like symbol, beside an elementary shape which may represent a cylindrical object or structure. This part is divided from the rest by a rough horizontal pencil line.
At the centre left is inscribed ‘Cornalliani’ or a close variation, perhaps a reference to the neoclassical Milanese artist Francesco Corneliani (1740–1815). Architectural studies of Milan begin on folio 1 verso (D14327). At the centre right appears something like ‘– Simata orgata | Liguora | Fatica P[...]’, apparently an attempt to transcribe Italian names or phrases, ‘fatica’ meaning work, effort or difficulty. At the outer edge, written with the page turned vertically, is a faint inscription approximating to ‘[...] C[...] 14 [...] | P[...] Bord[...] [?for]’, while towards the bottom left is a sketch or diagram of an undulating cloth-like form, perhaps copied from a painting or sculpture.
Squeezed in at the lower centre, narrowly avoiding Turner’s pencil work, is the endorsement of the Executors of the Turner Bequest, Henry Scott Trimmer, Charles Turner, John Prescott Knight and Charles Lock Eastlake, in ink ‘No 300. | Contains 90 leaves | Pencil sketches most | on both sides – | H.S. Trimmer | C Turner’ and in pencil ‘JPK’ and ‘C.L.E.’
There are some similarly obscure notes inside the back cover (D40892).

Matthew Imms
March 2017

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Inscriptions by Turner: Colour Notes and Italian Phrases; ?Undulating Cloth 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, March 2017, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, July 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-inscriptions-by-turner-colour-notes-and-italian-phrases-r1186439, accessed 17 June 2024.