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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Liber Notes (1) Sketchbook c.1815–16

Turner Bequest CXLIII 1–84
Sketchbook, half-bound in marbled paper in shades of grey, green, blue and light brown over boards, with black leather spine and corners with two lines of blind tooling along edges and six blind bands on spine
84 leaves and front and rear paste-downs of white wove paper, page size 160 x 102 mm
Paper made by John Green of Hayle Mill, Maidstone
Watermark ‘J Green | 1814’
Inscribed by Turner in ink ‘120’ on a label on the spine (D40869)
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards top left of front cover
Numbered 356 as part of the Turner Schedule in 1854 and endorsed by the Executors of the Turner Bequest, inside front cover (D40870); John Ruskin’s endorsement on a wrapper as recorded by Finberg: ‘356. Book with a sky and a few slight ships in pencil. The rest empty.’
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Finberg’s Turner Bequest Inventory heading giving the title he coined for this sketchbook as ‘Liber Notes (2) Sketchbook’1 is clearly a typographical error, as the legitimate Liber Notes (2) sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CLIV a) appears later,2 and he differentiates between them in his overall checklist of the sketchbooks in the Bequest, where they are given respectively if inconsistently as ‘Liber Notes (1)’ and ‘(II)’.3
As explained in the introduction to the present section of this catalogue, both Liber Notes sketchbooks are included here in a small grouping of material related to Turner’s Liber Studiorum series of landscape prints, in this case on the strength of the list of Liber engraving subjects inside the back cover (D40871). See also the present author’s detailed introduction to the section covering the watercolour studies for the series (‘Liber Studiorum c.1806–24’).
Elsewhere in the book there are sketches of River Thames scenes around London between folios 1 recto and 7 recto (D10775, D10783). As listed under folio 8 recto (D10784), two slight studies of shipping, perhaps also on the Thames, follow and there are a few more working in from the back. Between folios 10 recto and 62 recto (D10786, D10838) the book is blank. Finberg dated it to about 1815–16 on account of the Liber list, here given as probably 1815, and this range has otherwise been retained, since the sketches of Southwark Bridge under construction (see under folio 1 recto; D10775) must date from 1815 or later. For Gerald Wilkinson’s passing suggestion of a slightly later date of 1818 on stylistic grounds see under folio 4 recto (D19779). Finberg noted John Ruskin’s endorsement of this sketchbook on a wrapper: ‘356. Book with a sky and a few slight ships in pencil. The rest empty.’4
Finberg 1909, I, p.410.
Ibid., pp.438–46.
Ibid., II, p.1250.
Ibid., I, p.410.

Matthew Imms
September 2013

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How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Liber Notes (1) Sketchbook c.1815–16’, sketchbook, 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/liber-notes-1-sketchbook-r1147659, accessed 28 May 2024.