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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Sketches and Inscriptions in a Copy of Rogers's 'Poems' c.1830-2

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Sketches and Inscriptions in a Copy of Rogers’s ‘Poems’ c.1830–2
Turner Bequest CCCLXVI
Copy of Samuel Rogers’s Poems (London 1827) bound in publisher’s uncovered plain boards, rebacked with modern brown paper spine
8 unnumbered preliminary pages, 314 numbered pages and 2 unnumbered subsequent pages with vignette and imprint, comprising 162 folios of white wove paper with fine horizontal texture, with endpapers and paste-downs of plain white wove paper; some edges uncut; approximate page size 175 x 110 mm
Printed by Thomas Bensley, London, and published by Thomas Cadell, London
Annotated by Turner in pencil with small drawings, notes and symbols (see main catalogue entry)
Inscribed in pencil ‘H Rook’ inside font cover, top left
Numbered 407 as part of the Turner Schedule in 1854 and inscribed by the Executors of the Turner Bequest, Charles Lock Eastlake and John Prescott Knight, in pencil ‘407 Book containing 31 leaves | with pencil sketches & indications | Some leaves drawn on both sides | C.L.E.’ and ‘JPK’, inside front cover, towards top
Inscribed in red ink ‘ccclxvi.’ inside front cover, towards top right
Stamped in black ‘CCCLXVI’ inside front cover, top left
Stamped in black ‘CCCLXVI’ top right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This is one of two printed books listed after Turner’s conventional sketchbooks towards the end of Finberg’s 1909 Turner Bequest Inventory, on account of containing annotations and sketches by the artist. It is a trade copy of the 1827 edition of Samuel Rogers’s Poems, issued in plain boards without cloth or leather covering (to be added at the owner’s preference); as recognised by Finberg,1 it was used during the planning of Turner’s vignette watercolours to be engraved for the 1834 edition. This followed the great success of the 1830 edition of Rogers’s Italy, in a similar format with illustrations after Turner. Meredith Gamer has dealt with both these Rogers projects in detail in her entries in the present section for the watercolours and studies remaining in the Turner Bequest.
The other annotated book mentioned above, Tate D36331 (Turner Bequest CCCLXVII), is a copy of H.A.O. Reichard’s Itinerary of Italy (London 1818), used on the 1819 Italian tour and containing occasional thumbnail figure drawings and notes.2 Turner had also used his interleaved copy of Nathaniel Coltman’s The British Itinerary, known as the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CXXIII), far more programmatically on his 1811 tour of the West Country.
This Rogers volume was not treated in page-by-page detail by Finberg, and bears a single Tate accession number rather than one for each recto and any versos with drawings or inscriptions, as is customary with the sketchbooks; it is hence dealt with here in one continuous entry. As set out in full below, it includes various brief written notes, marks against passages of interest including blank ‘frames’ and small drawings of imagery evoked by the immediately adjacent lines; some, as Anne Lyles and Diane Perkins have noted, are ‘very close to his final treatment’,3 others much less so. Jan Piggott has suggested that Turner’s initials (see pages 46 and 47) suggest ‘sessions of negotiation with Rogers and Stothard’.4
The accomplished neo-classical painter and illustrator Thomas Stothard (1755–1834) had produced numerous attractive but less technically sophisticated vignettes of figures, first used in the 1812 edition and again in 1827,5 and would contribute designs in a similar spirit to be engraved more subtly on steel for the 1834 edition, while Turner focused on landscapes.6 Adele Holcomb has seen the range of the latter’s interventions here as showing that he ‘proposed subjects ... based on his reading of the text. While such a conclusion must remain tentative, it does not seem likely that Turner would have examined and marked the text ... if the subjects had been unilaterally chosen by Rogers’, suggesting that a ‘process of give and take’ was in play.7
The recto of the back free endpaper is inscribed at the top, apparently by Turner, in pencil: ‘Mr. Wm. Green | No. 7 Rye Lane | Peckham’. The significance of this South London contact is uncertain, as is that of the apparently contemporary note ‘H Rook’ inside the front cover.
Inside the back cover the artist has inscribed the following list of pages and subjects in pencil:
39 Greenwich Hospital
203 Bolton Abbey
217 A Fountain
218 Loch Lomond8
220 225 Garden
226 Westminster Abbey
x 246
284 Castle & Convent
These are cited as ‘Turner’s checklist’ in the running entries for individual pages below.
Turner’s very small, rapid thumbnail sketches are generally ‘framed’ with pencil lines to concentrate the image, and often the ‘frame’ alone is indicated, presumably as a reminder to think of a composition. They are usually immediate responses to the imagery of the line mentioned or adjacent passages (not all quoted here), but the suggested interpretations of the slighter subjects here have been informed by readings of the text. Those sketches or marked passages leading to fully developed vignette compositions are cross-referenced to Meredith Gamer’s fully documented entries for the relevant watercolour designs of around 1830–2, while designs not directly prefigured by Turner’s notes here are also mentioned in sequence. Turner’s use of the book is here placed within the same fairly narrow period although, as discussed under page 226, he may have begun thinking of relevant subjects as early as 1827, the year of this copy’s publication. Lines on page 219 describe a landscape he first witnessed in 1831, while a sketch on page 244 may relate to others in a sketchbook in use then.
A full contents list of the printed text is set out below: ‘[annotation]’ precedes those pages with marks, empty ‘frames’ or inscriptions; ‘[drawing(s)]’ precedes those with sketches, which may be accompanied with other notes. All are in pencil and assumed to be by Turner. There are also drawings of a different character scattered through the book; these slight studies of shipping and what appear to be coastal scenes were probably made from direct observation and suggest that Turner happened to be carrying the book around with him while travelling and using it casually here and there (as he had with Reichard’s Italy in 1819). See pages 11, 190, 196–7, [232], [245], 256 and [316].
p.[i]: half-title: ‘POEMS.’
p.[ii]: frontispiece vignette.
p.[iii]: title page: ‘POEMS | BY | SAMUEL ROGERS. | A NEW EDITION. | London: | PRINTED FOR T. CADELL, | STRAND. | 1827.’
p.[iv]: imprint: ‘T. Bensley, Printer, Crane Court, Fleet Street.’
pp.[v–vi]: untitled poem beginning: ‘Oh could my mind, unfolded in my page’.
pp.[vii–viii]: ‘Contents.’
p.[1]: heading: ‘The Pleasures of Memory. In two parts.’ For Turner’s vignette of a garden at this point in the 1834 edition, see the note to p.225 below.
p.[3]: heading: ‘The Pleasures of Memory. Part I.’
pp.[5]–6: ‘Analysis of the first part.’
pp.7–25: continuous verse:
[drawing] p.7: inscribed ‘Day’ left of line 3; horizontal drawing right of line 6, possibly the setting sun beside trees. Adele Holcomb notes that the marked passage relates to Turner’s vignette A Village. Evening,9 as does the small drawing here; see also the entry for the watercolour design (Tate D27685; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 168). Holcomb also observes Turner’s many ‘brief marks’ throughout The Pleasures of Memory without listing them all,10 albeit giving as examples those on pp.21 and 36.
[drawing] p.8: inscribed ‘D’ left of line 3 and with horizontal mark left of line 4; horizontal ‘frame’ with slight marks right of line 5; horizontal drawing right of line 6, including an arch; vertical drawing to right of lines 11–14, apparently a pedimented archway; horizontal drawing right of lines 16–18, possibly figures in interior. Holcomb notes that the sketches here, suggested by Rogers’s ‘mouldering gateway’ (line 6), and ‘See, thro’ the fractured pediment revealed’ (line 11), did not lead to designs;11 nor did the one concerning the passage about the ‘hospitable hall’ (line 16).
[drawing] p.9: left of lines 5–6, a figure group; a curling horizontal mark after line 6.
[drawings] p.10: right of line 1, possibly furniture and a figure in an interior; right of lines 18–20, probably a path through a garden. Holcomb notes that the first sketch here, suggested by Rogers’s ‘As o’er the dusky furniture I bend’ (line 1), did not lead to a design;12 nor did the other, evoking the passage about the ‘the garden’s desert paths’ (line 19).
[drawings] p.11: top left, a sailing boat with other shipping or buildings, inscribed ‘6’ below hull, and top right, sailing ships, apparently unrelated to the text (for several such instances, see the Introduction above); upright right of lines 3–7, a figure carving on a tree trunk. Holcomb notes that the sketch here, suggested by Rogers’s ‘How oft inscribed, with Friendship’s votive rhyme’ (line 5), did not lead to a design.13
[annotation] p.12: horizontal mark right of line 19. Holcomb notes the marked passage relates to Turner’s vignette The Gipsy;14 see also the entry for the watercolour design (Tate D27690; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 173).
[annotation] p.14: horizontal mark right of line 11.
[annotation] p.17: horizontal mark right of line 5. Holcomb notes the marked passage relates to Turner’s vignette Leaving Home;15 see also the entry for the watercolour design (Tate D27686; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 169).
[annotation] p.18: horizontal mark right of line 6.
[annotation] p.19: horizontal mark right of lines 11 and 20. As Cecilia Powell notes,16 the latter, concerning ‘ruined Tusculan’s romantic groves’, evokes the Roman orator Cicero’s country villa, the subject of Turner’s 1839 painting Cicero at his Villa (private collection).17
[annotation] p.21: irregular mark right of line 8. Holcomb notes that Turner marked ‘Say why Vespasian loved his Sabine farm’ (line 8) not for its ‘visual suggestions’,18 but perhaps as a possible subject in his wider work.
[annotation] p.24: horizontal mark right of line 7.
p.[27]: heading: ‘The Pleasures of Memory. Part II.’
pp.[29]–30: ‘Analysis of the second part.’
pp.31–53: continuous verse:
[annotation] p.36: horizontal ‘frame’ right of lines 14–16. Holcomb notes that the artist marked the longer passage centred on ‘He whose arresting hand divinely wrought’ (line 15) not for its ‘visual suggestions’,19 but perhaps as a possible subject in his wider work, dealing as it does with ‘a theme dear to Turner, that of genius undone by poverty’.20
[annotation] p.37: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 7.
[annotation] p.39: vertical mark right of lines 7–12, inscribed ‘r’ or ‘v’ right of top of line. Turner’s checklist: ‘39 Greenwich Hospital’. See also the entry for the watercolour vignette Greenwich Hospital (Tate D27693; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 176).21
[annotation] p.40: horizontal ‘frame’ right of lines 17–18.
[annotation] p.42: horizontal ‘frames’ right of lines 11, 18 and 20–21. As Holcomb notes,22 the lower frames flank ‘Gilpinesque’ (that is, Picturesque, in the mode of William Gilpin) descriptions of the Lake District’s Lodore Falls and Derwentwater, subjects familiar to Turner since 1797 and informing his 1834 vignette Keswick Lake; see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27698; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 181).
[annotation] p.43: horizontal mark right of line 2, and with vertical and horizontal marks right of lines 13–14.
[annotation] p.46: inscribed ‘JMWT’ right of line 11.
[annotation] p.47: inscribed ‘JMWT’ right of line 13. Holcomb has noted the link between this mention of ‘St. Herbert’s consecrated grove’ (line 13) and one of Turner’s ‘most exquisite moonlit scenes’, in his vignette subject St Herbert’s Chapel;23 see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27697; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 180).
[annotation] p.48: inscribed ‘[... S]’ after line 4, and with horizontal mark after line 9.
pp.[54]–61: ‘Notes on the first part.’:
[annotation] p.57: horizontal ‘frames’ right of notes on ‘P. 19, l. 11’ and ‘P. 19, l. 13’.
pp.[62]–5: ‘Notes on the second part.’:
[annotation] p.64: horizontal ‘frame’ left of note on ‘P. 40, l. 1’.
p.[67]: heading: ‘Human Life.’ Holcomb notes the many passages of this poem ‘dwelling on the joys of family life’ marked by Turner, but in the event ‘all the domestic subjects pictured in the book are by Stothard’24 (see the Introduction above).
p.[68]: ‘The argument.’
pp.[69]–109: continuous verse. For Turner’s vignette of An Old Manor-House at the head of the poem in the 1834 edition and its possible sources, see the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27718; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 201).
[annotation] p.70: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 20.
[annotation] p.77: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 10.
[annotation] p.78: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 6. Here a boy ‘chases the bright butterfly; | Oh he would follow, follow through the sky!’ (lines 5–6). For a possible link to Turner’s vignette of a garden in the 1834 edition, see the note to p.225 below.
[annotation] p.81: horizontal mark right of line 6.
[annotation] p.82: horizontal ‘frame’ right of lines 20–1.
[annotation] p.84: horizontal ‘frame’ right of lines 3–4.
[annotation] p.85: horizontal ‘frame’ right of lines 5–6.
[drawing] p.87: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 9, and slight drawing right of lines 12–13.
The evocative passage on p.88, beginning ‘The shepherd on Tornaro’s misty brow’ and describing dawn breaking, is unmarked here, but was illustrated by Turner’s vignette Tornaro in 1834; see the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27689; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 172).
[annotation] p.90: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 12.
[annotation] p.92: horizontal ‘frame’ right of lines 9–10.
[annotation] p.93: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 15. Holcomb notes Turner’s highlighting the line ‘Sign beyond sign in close array unfurled’ from a longer passage informing the vignette of A Village Fair;25 see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27717; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 200).
[annotation] p.94: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 1.
[annotation] p.95: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 1.
[annotation] p.97: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 7.
[annotation] p.98: horizontal ‘frame’ right of lines 6–7. Holcomb notes the link between this passage, including the historical imprisonment of Cranmer, More and others (line 4) at the Tower of London, and the vignette Traitor’s Gate, Tower of London;26 see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27694; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 177).
[annotation] p.100: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 11. For this passage about Charles James Fox’s Surrey garden at St Anne’s Hill and Turner’s 1834 vignette, see under the related subject on p.226 below.
[annotation] p.101: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 7.
[annotation] p.102: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 16.
[annotation] p.103: horizontal ‘frames’ right of lines 1–2 and 3–4. Holcomb notes the link between this fruitful four-line passage with two vignettes:27 the first couplet, ‘And in an instant lost – a hollow wave | Of burning sand their everlasting grave!’ inspired the whirling vortex of the vignette A Hurricane in the Desert (The Simoom); see also the entry for the watercolour vignette (Tate D27712; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 195). The second, ‘Now the scene shifts to Venice – to a square | Glittering with light, all nations masking there,’ led to the vignette Venice (The Rialto – Moonlight); see also the entry for Tate D27713 (Turner Bequest CCLXXX 196).
[annotation] p.105: irregular mark right of line 15.
[annotation] p.106: horizontal mark after line 20.
pp.[110]–[121]: ‘Notes.’:
[annotation] p.115: horizontal ‘frames’ left and right of right of note on ‘P. 83, l. 17’.
[annotation] p.116: irregular frame or possibly ‘D’ inscribed left of note on ‘P.87, l. 5’
[annotation] p.118: horizontal ‘frame’ right of note on ‘P. 98, l. 3’.
p.[123]: heading: ‘An Epistle to a Friend.’ Holcomb observes that despite Turner’s many markings through this poem, the 1834 designs for it would all be by Stothard28 (see the Introduction above).
pp.[125]–6: ‘Preface.’
pp.[127]–39: continuous verse:
[annotation] p.[127]: inscribed ‘X’ top centre; vertical mark left of lines 7–8 and horizontal ‘frame’ to their right.
[annotation] p.128: horizontal ‘frame’ right of lines 5–7, and three increasingly irregular ‘frames’ right of lines 15–20.
[annotation] p.129: horizontal ‘frames’ above right of line 1, right of line 6, and right of lines 12–13.
[annotation] p.130: horizontal ‘frames’ right of lines 1–2 and lines 19–20.
[annotation] p.131: irregular mark right of lines 3–4.
[annotation] p.132: horizontal ‘frame’ right of line 3.
[annotation] p.135: irregular flag-like ‘frame’ right of lines 12–13.
[annotation] p.136: horizontal ‘frame’ right of lines 9–10.
[annotation] p.137: horizontal ‘frames’ right of lines 5–6, 13–14 and 17–18.
[annotation] p.138: horizontal ‘frames’ right of lines 1–2.
pp.[140]–6: ‘Notes’:
[drawing] p.145: above right of note on ‘P. 137, l. 13’, river scene with boats.
p.147: ‘Ode to Superstition.’ Although it is not quite the case, as Holcomb maintains, that Turner made ‘no notations’ to this poem and found it ‘totally unsuitable’,29 it remained unillustrated in the 1834 edition.30
[annotation] p.148: horizontal marks right of lines 9, 13 and 15.
[annotation] p.149: horizontal marks right of line 4.
[annotation] p.153: Horizontal marks left of line 16.
p.156: ‘Verses Written to be Spoken by Mrs. Siddons.’
p.161: ‘On – – – Asleep.’
p.162: ‘Jacqueline.’
[annotation] p.168: vertical mark left of lines 11–18; Turner’s checklist: ‘168’. Holcomb notes that this passage, beginning ‘Not now to while an hour away, | Gone to the falls of Valombrè’, and describing how a ‘wild deer, wild no more, Her [Jacqueline’s] chaplet on its antlers wore’ (lines 16–17) became the subject of a ‘landscape of association’31 with the heroine’s deer in the foreground in the vignette Valombrè; see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27702; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 185).
[annotation] p.169: vertical mark left of lines 9–12; Turner’s checklist: ‘169’. This description of Jacqueline’s home in its ‘wild and mulberry-shaded dell’ (line 12) was the source of the vignette St Pierre’s Cottage, ‘with the Piedmontese Alps in the distance’, as Holcomb notes32 (and see immediately below); see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27700; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 183).
[annotation] p.170: inscribed ‘X’ top centre; vertical mark left of lines 1–2. Turner marked here how the ‘Alps of Piedmont rose, | The blush of sunset on their snows’, beyond the cottage described on p.169.
[annotation] p.176: horizontal mark right of line 8. Holcomb calls the vignette St Julienne’s Chapel which stems from the longer passage here (line 1 onwards) as ‘a rare example of narrative illustration’, showing Jacqueline and her future husband standing in the foreground while also being married in the distance.33 The setting of the ‘woods, [and] the golden meadows’ in line 8 particularly caught Turner’s eye; see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27703; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 186).
[annotation] p.178: horizontal mark right of line 12.
[annotation] p.182: horizontal mark left of line 9.
[drawing] p.183: ‘To ........’; ‘From Euripedes.’ Right of latter title, apparently a landscape with figures. Despite sparking Turner’s interest, this poem went unillustrated in 1834.34
[drawing] p.184: ‘Captivity.’ Right of title, apparently a landscape with one or two flying birds. As Anne Lyles and Diane Perkins note, this seems to illustrate line 2: ‘When the hern screams along the distant lake’.35 For Turner’s vignette Captivity, see the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27704; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 187), a quite different treatment; see also two studies (Tate D20817, D25343; Turner Bequest CCXXVII a 14, CCLXIII 221). Tate D27527 (Turner Bequest CCLXXX 10) shows another alternative.
p.185: ‘The Sailor.’:
[drawing] p.186: right of lines 13–16, upright landscape with palm trees. The attractions of ‘many a spicy grove’ and ‘many a plantain forest, waving wide’, where ‘giant palms o’er-arch the golden tide’, did not become the subject for a vignette.36
[annotation] p.188: ‘To an Old Oak.’ Vertical marks left of lines 1–5 and 11–13; Turner’s checklist: ‘188’. The first passage evokes an effectively pre-historic past, with the oak in ‘a grove’ frequented by the eagle and the wolf; then, after a medieval interlude, ‘Culture came, and days serene; | and village sports, and garlands gay’ (lines 11–12), as pictured in the homely vignette An Old Oak;37 see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27691; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 174).
[drawing] p.189: right of lines 13–14, a bare oak tree. ‘Thy singed top and branches bare | Now straggle in the evening sky’ at this point, inspiring Turner’s initial desolate response. His second developed vignette, Ship-building (An Old Oak Dead), would instead look back to the unmarked stanza of lines 3–7, where such a tree becomes the construction material for ‘many a navy thunder-fraught ... destined o’er the world to sweep’. This was in ‘celebration ... of its associations with the national past’, as Holcomb has observed;38 see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27692; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 175).
[drawing] p.190: ‘To Two Sisters.’ At top, unrelated to text, of masts of a boat or boats with a church spire and low buildings beyond, probably observed directly; compare pp.196–7, and for several other instances, see the Introduction above.
p.192: ‘On a Tear.’
p.194: ‘To a Voice that Had Been Lost.’
p.196: ‘From a Greek Epigram.’
p.197: ‘To a Fragment of a Statue of Hercules, Commonly Called the Torso.’
[drawings] pp.196–7: two at top, the upper one on p.196 only, showing low buildings on a coast or estuary, probably observed directly; compare p.190, and for several other such instances, see the Introduction above; p.197: irregular forms, possibly including billowing sails.
p.199: ‘To – – – – –’
[drawings] p.201: ‘Written in a Sick Chamber.’ Top left and right, figures and a curtained bed in an interior. Holcomb notes that despite the sketches, this poem went unillustrated in 1834.39 The shadowy spaces of such settings often held other implications for Turner; see the Introduction to the ‘Erotica and Improvisations c.1834–6’ section of this catalogue.
[drawing] p.202: ‘The Boy of Egremond.’ Right of lines 5–8, valley landscape.
[drawing] p.203: right of lines 1–5, figure in valley landscape; inscribed right of lines 13–14 ‘now calld | the Strid’; vertical mark left of lines 15–17; Turner’s checklist: ‘203 Bolton Abbey’. As Holcomb notes, this second drawing led to a vignette with the eponymous character about to step to his death in the rapids of the dramatic Strid section of the River Wharfe ‘where the rock is rent in two, | And the river rushes through’ (lines 4–5) in a ‘narrow place of noise and strife’ (line 14), near Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire,40 which is evoked in lines 15–17. Both river and ruin had been recorded by Turner on various occasions since 1797, for example in the many views up and down the valley in the Devonshire Rivers No.3, and Wharfedale sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CXXXIV), in the ‘West Country and Yorkshire 1814–17’ section of this catalogue. See also the entries for the watercolours The Boy of Egremond and Bolton Abbey (Tate D27695, D27696; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 178, 179).
p.205: ‘To a Friend on his Marriage.’
[drawing] p.207: ‘The Alps at Day-break.’ Right of title, mountain scene.41
[drawing] p.208: right of lines 3–6, mountain scene; vertical mark left of lines 3–10; Turner’s checklist: ‘208’. The Alps had been a source of inspiration to Turner since his first Continental tour in 1802, and the two drawings here resulted in a snowy, brilliantly lit vignette, The Alps (The Alps at Daybreak);42 see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27701; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 184).
p.209: ‘Imitation of an Italian Sonnet.’; ‘A Character.’
p.210: ‘To the Youngest Daughter of Lady * *.’
[annotation] p.211: ‘An Epitaph on a Robin-Redbreast.’ Inscribed ‘X’ top centre; inscribed ‘Nor’ left of line 10.
[drawing] p.212: ‘To the Gnat.’ Right of lines 8–11, figure in upright landscape.
[drawing] p.213: ‘A Wish.’ Right of title and lines 1–3, water mill in upright landscape.
[drawing] p.214: conclusion to ‘A Wish’; ‘Written at Midnight.’ Below right of end of first poem, figures in upright landscape with church spire.
p.215: ‘An Italian Song.’
[drawing] p.216: Below right of end of poem, figures in upright wooded landscape. Holcomb notes that Turner’s tiny composition ‘apparently depicts a country dance’ (the ‘ballet danced in twilight glade’ of line 6), but in the 1834 edition the illustration of a different aspect of the verse was by Stothard43 (see the Introduction above).
[drawing] p.217: ‘An Inscription.’ Above right of title, horizontal wooded landscape; vertical mark left of lines 3–8; Turner’s checklist: ‘217 A Fountain’.
[drawing] p.218: ‘Written in the Highlands of Scotland, September 2, 1812.’ Drawing right of lines 4–7, horizontal landscape with mountains; vertical marks left of lines 1–7 and 11–16; Turner’s checklist: ‘218 Loch Lomond’.44
[drawing] p.219: left of lines 14–16, ‘As Fingal spoke and Ossian sung. | Night fell, and darker and darker grew | That narrow sea, that narrow sky’, horizontal view, possibly of Staffa from the sea. Turner visited Staffa, the rocky island of the Inner Hebrides, on his Scottish tour of 1831, making numerous drawings there in the Staffa sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CCLXXIII) and exhibiting the painting Staffa, Fingal’s Cave the following year (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven),45 with its dramatic sunset and towering clouds dwarfing a steamship on a dark sea. His response to the allusive lines here might indicate that Turner already had personal experience of the scene, and that Rogers’s evocation could have influenced the painting, although the subject went unrepresented in the 1834 edition.
[drawing] p.220: right of lines 9–10, horizontal landscape; vertical mark left of lines 3–9; Turner’s checklist: ‘220 225 Garden’.
[drawing] p.221: right of lines 6–9, horizontal landscape with ferry sail reflected in water. As Holcomb observes, the whole poem ‘called forth Turner’s deep affection for, and appreciation of, the Scottish countryside’,46 which he had known since 1801. This last drawing relates particularly to his vignette Loch Lomond; see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27699; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 182).
p.222: ‘A Farewell.’
p.224: ‘Inscription for a Temple Dedicated to the Graces.’
[annotation] p.225: ‘To the Butterfly.’ Vertical mark left of lines 3–6; Turner’s checklist: ‘220 225 Garden’. The image of the insect as the ‘Child of the sun’ in ‘rapturous flight ... where the flowers of Paradise unfold’, with wings ‘rich as an evening-sky’ (lines 1, 3 and 5) may have informed Turner’s vignette A Garden (not the artist’s own published title, but fortuitously the word he used in his checklist of possible subjects at the back of this copy), with a boy chasing a butterfly. It appears at the beginning of ‘The Pleasures of Memory’, the first poem in the 1834 edition (as here), and effectively doubles as a frontispiece to the whole book. See the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27679; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 162), where other lines on a boy and a butterfly are noted, corresponding with those marked by Turner on p.78 above.
[drawing] p.226: ‘Written in Westminster Abbey. October 10, 1806.’ Right of title, square-format exterior view of Westminster Abbey; Turner’s checklist: ‘226 Westminster Abbey’. The poem relates to the funeral of Rogers’s politician friend Charles James Fox (1749–1806); The artist’s response here was to show the familiar towers on the skyline, but in the 1834 edition the accompanying vignette was of Fox’s country retreat, St Anne’s Hill, II (In the Garden). Likely at Rogers’s suggestion,47 Turner seems to have undertaken a special visit to make detailed drawings in the grounds of the Surrey house as early as 1827, as set out in the introduction to the Windsor and St Anne’s Hill sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CCXXV) in the ‘Thames, London and South of England 1821–7’ section of this catalogue; see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27688; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 171). Another watercolour vignette of Fox’s garden, St Anne’s Hill, I (Tate D27687; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 170), was engraved to illustrate ‘Human Life’ in 1834; the relevant lines on p.100 of the present edition are flanked by one of Turner’s blank ‘frames’.
p.231: heading: ‘The Voyage of Columbus.’
As Holcomb observes, Rogers’s concluding verses, his ‘sole venture into epic poetry’ comprise an imaginative account of Christopher Columbus’s epoch-defining 1492 expedition to the Americas, incorporating supernatural elements on the pretext of its being a translation from an old Spanish manuscript. This allowed Turner scope for ‘visionary’ compositions;48 see also Gamer’s general comments on the poem under Tate D27705 (Turner Bequest CCLXXX 188).
[drawing] p.[232]: epigraph. Drawing at top, a boat under sail, probably observed directly; see the note under p.241 below, and for several other such instances, the Introduction above.
pp.[233]–4: [‘Preface.’]
[annotation] pp.[235]–6: ‘Inscribed on the Original Manuscript.’ p.235: Vertical mark left of lines 12–18; Turner’s checklist: ‘235.’ Holcomb notes that this passage, beginning ‘No earthly thought had here a place’ relates to the conception of Columbus’s voyage while at the convent of La Rábida (see line 5), as represented in Turner’s initial vignette of the seven throughout the poem, Columbus and his Son;49 see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27705; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 188), which notes additional relevant lines not included in the 1827 edition.
[annotation] p.236: Vertical mark left of lines 1–2.
pp.[237]–8: ‘Preface to the Second Edition.’
pp.[239]–40: ‘The Argument.’
pp.241–88: Cantos I–XII and postscript:
[annotation] p.241: Double vertical marks and ‘X’ right of lines 1–2. Holcomb mentions Turner’s vignette of Columbus Setting Sail from Palos, which appears above these lines at the equivalent point of the 1834 edition, at the beginning of the first canto. The design does not relate to a specific passage in Rogers, but rather ‘supplements the scant narrative content’;50 see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27706; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 189), where Gamer notes in passing the pencil shipping studies on pages 232, 245 and [316] in the present volume.
[drawing] p.244: right of printed vignette following Canto I, upright composition of spirit above figures. Holcomb relates this to the ‘angel who calls forth the winds’ to assist Columbus;51 see the entry for the variant watercolour design (Tate D27617; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 100) relating to the vignette A Tempest (see under Tate D27719; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 202). See also Thomas Ardill’s entry for pencil sketches of the subject in the 1831 Berwick sketchbook (Tate D25694–D25695; Turner Bequest CCLXV 29a, 30), and p.250 below.
[drawing] p.[245]: Drawing above heading for Canto II, yachts sailing, unrelated to the verse and possibly observed directly; see also the note under p.241 above, and for several other such instances, the Introduction above.
[drawings] p.246: double vertical marks and ‘X’ right of lines 1–2; above right of text, horizontal drawing, possibly clouds; another overlapping with and to right of lines 11–15, shipping under sail; Turner’s checklist: ‘x 246’. Holcomb relates the sketches here to Turner’s vignette The Vision of Columbus, where ‘armed shapes of god-like stature passed! | Slowly across the evening sky they went | ... | Streaming a baleful light that was not of the sun!’ (lines 4, 5 and 8) above Columbus’s ships;52 see also the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27714; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 197).
[drawings] p.247: across top edge, clouds; right of lines 11–13, horizontal seascape with waterspout towering over small vessel. Holcomb notes Turner responding in passing to the obstructive ‘scattered sedge’ (line 2) and dramatic waterspouts ‘shoot[ing] in columns to the skies’ (line 13).53
[drawings] p.249: above right of text, apparently a shadowy horizontal cave scene; below right of text, smoke against night sky with full moon. Holcomb relates the first undeveloped drawing to Rogers’s evocation of a gathering of spirits in ‘the deep, immeasurable cave | Of Andes’ (lines 1–2). She suggests a possible echo of the evocation of the ‘roaring Andes’ soon after a reference to Columbus in the ‘Summer’ section (lines 839 and 832 respectively) of The Seasons by James Thomson (1700–1748),54 an important early poetic influence on Turner.55 In the second sketch, ‘night-fires gleam along the sullen shore | Of Huron or Ontario’ (line 20, p.250 line 1).56
[drawing] p.250: right of lines 14–15, landscape with ?flying figure. Holcomb relates this to the ‘sovereign Spirit’ (line 9) who goes on to warn his kind at length of Columbus’s coming;57 see also under p.244 above.
[drawings] p.[252]: across top edge, ships ?off coast; right of lines 10–12, horizontal composition of silhouetted figures or sails.
[drawing] p.253: right of lines 3–4, horizontal composition of ships under sail.
As Holcomb notes, these particular drawings did not lead to illustrations.58
[drawing] p.[255]: below left of text, horizontal composition of shipping ?with distant buildings.
[drawings] p.256: double vertical marks and reinforced ‘X’ left of lines 17–20; right of lines 3–5, horizontal port scene; below right of text, shipping off a buoy, unrelated to the verse and probably observed directly (for several such instances, see the Introduction above); Turner’s checklist: ‘256’. As Holcomb notes, the first drawing relates to Columbus’s thinking back to Palos (line 3), the port from which he set sail, while Spain’s Alhambra (line 18) and other scenes of home are marked, but went undeveloped.59
[drawing] p.257: double vertical marks and reinforced ‘X’ right of lines 5–6; right of lines 7–8, horizontal composition, possibly of dancing figures; vertical mark right of lines 12–13.
[drawing] p.[258]: mark right of line 5; below right of text, horizontal composition, possibly including a figure in a hat.
[drawing] p.259: below right of text, horizontal composition of landscape or sky. Holcomb notes Turner responding to the description of the spirit ‘Merion’ (named in line 12), rising ‘like the Condor’ or ‘Roc of the West’ (lines 16, 18). In the event, Stothard (see the Introduction above) illustrated this canto with a procession of horses and knights.60
[annotation] p.266: double vertical marks and reinforced ‘X’ left of lines 9–12; Turner’s checklist: ‘266’. Holcomb notes Turner’s response to Rogers’s description of the last sunset of the outward voyage,61 creating a ‘path of glory, opening in the west, | To golden climes, and islands of the blest’ (lines 11–12). Turner eventually provided an atmospheric moonlit scene, Land Discovered by Columbus, for this section;62 see the entry for the watercolour vignette (Tate D27707; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 190).
[drawings] p.268: above left of text, horizontal composition, possibly of shipping off shore; below left of text, horizontal composition of figures with cross. The second relates to the vignette The Landing of Columbus, where a procession files through the shallows to the shore with a crucifix near the front;63 see the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27708; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 191).
[annotation] p.274: inscribed with large reinforced ‘X’ left of lines 3–5.
The main body of the poem ends on p.283. In the 1834 edition the text is followed by Turner’s visionary vignette A Tempest – Voyage of Columbus;64 see the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27719; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 202).
[annotation] p.284: horizontal mark left of lines 5–12; Turner’s checklist: ‘284 Castle & Convent’.
Pages 284–8 form an epilogue when the later explorers Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro visit the convent of La Rábida, first mentioned on p.[235]. Turner marks the passage where they approach by water, but in the 1834 edition the vignette Cortes and Pizarro shows the scene where they enter the church and muse: ‘“Now stand we where Columbus stood!”’ (p.286, line 13);65 see the entry for the watercolour (Tate D27709; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 192).
pp.289–314: ‘Notes.’
p.[315]: tailpiece vignette by Stothard
For Turner’s own landscape vignette at the end of the 1834 edition, seemingly not inspired by any particular passage of Rogers’s, see the entry for the watercolour Evening (Datur Hora Quieti) (Tate D27716; Turner Bequest CCLXXX 199).
[drawing] p.[316]: imprint: ‘T. Bensley, Printer, Crane Court, Fleet Street.’: Drawing at top, ship under sail and marks possibly indicating masts or sails of a yacht, probably observed directly, see also the note under p.241 above, and for several other such instances, the Introduction above.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

Finberg 1909, II, p.1217; see also Omer 1975, p.[10], Omer 1976, p.11, Wilton 1979, p.436, Lyles 1992, p.51, and Piggott 2001, p.266.
See Finberg 1909, II, p.1218.
Lyles and Perkins 1989, p.71.
Piggott 1993, p.21.
Ibid., p.40.
See Martin Butlin, ‘Stothard, Thomas (1755–1834)’ in Joll, Butlin and Herrmann 2001, p.310.
Holcomb 1966, p.84; see also Omer 1975, p.[23], and Omer 1976, p.26.
See Omer 1975, p.[14] note 24, and Omer 1976, p.17 noe 24..
See Holcomb 1966, p.85
See Powell 1987, p.176; see also Powell 1984, p.359 note 44, and Nicholson 1990, p.141 note 69.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.233–4 no.381, pl.385 (colour).
See Holcomb 1966, p.85.
Ibid., pp.85–6.
Ibid., p.86.
Ibid., p.87.
Ibid., p.88.
Lyles and Perkins 1989, p.71; see also p.70, reproducing pp.184–5.
See Holcomb 1966, p.88.
Ibid., p.87.
Ibid., p.88.
See Piggott 1993, p.92.
See Holcomb 1966, pp.88–9.
Ibid., p.89.
See Omer 1975, pp.[10], [14] note 24, and fig.4; see also Omer 1976, pp.12, 26, and Abb.4.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.198–9 p.347, pl.350 (colour).
Holcomb 1966, p.89.
Ibid., pp.89–90.
Ibid., p.90.
Ibid., p.91.
Ibid., p.92.
Ibid., p.91.
Ibid., p.92.
Ibid., pp.92–3.
Summarised by Jan Piggott, ‘Thomson, James (1700–48)’ in Joll, Butlin and Herrmann 2001, pp.336–7.
See Holcomb 1966, p.93.
Ibid., p.94.
Ibid., pp.94–5.
Ibid., pp.95–6.
Ibid., pp.96–7.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Sketches and Inscriptions in a Copy of Rogers’s ‘Poems’ c.1830–2 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, September 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-sketches-and-inscriptions-in-a-copy-of-rogerss-poems-r1183718, accessed 23 May 2024.