Charles Turner & JMW Turner

Drawing Of The Clyde, Liber Studiorum

Charles Turner & JMW Turner

Drawing Of The Clyde, Liber Studiorum

This early 19th-century etching by British engraver Charles Turner (1774-1857) was produced in collaboration with JMW Turner (1775-1851) and forms part of the Liber Studiorum (book of studies).

As a young man, fresh to the Royal Academy, JMW Turner was educated in the virtues of classical landscape painting. During his studies, Academy President, Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA (1723-1792), urged students to learn from the Old Masters, such as Rubens, and elevate the natural world beyond mere factual representation.

“[Rubens] has contrived to raise and animate his otherwise uninteresting views, by introducing a rainbow, storm, or some particular accidental effect of light.”

Turner was inspired by these heady visions and gained access to a wide range of reference material including an important book of engravings after drawings by French artist Claude Lorrain (1600-1682). Claude’s ‘Liber Veritatis’ became a vital cog in Turner’s development as it covers 195 paintings and gave insight into the mind of one of history’s most eminent landscape painters.

Skip forward 20 years and Turner himself is educating others with his own version of Claude’s ‘Liber Veritatis’ - his Liber Studiorum. By this time, he’d achieved the position of ‘Professor of Perspective’ at the Royal Academy and sought to inspire the next generation of British landscape artists. This etching is from an original plate of Liber Studiorum (plate 18) - etched by JMW Turner himself, together with engraver Charles Turner.

‘The Drawing of the Clyde’ was published within part four of the Liber and it’s based on a drawing held at Tate Britain. It depicts Cora Linn - the highest waterfall of the River Clyde in Lanarkshire, Scotland, which Turner visited in 1801.

It’s fascinating for the inclusion of the bathers, which are intended as nymphs, and reference ‘Hymn To The Naiads’, a poem by Mark Akenside (1721-1770). By including them, Turner is appealing to different audiences - firstly, those who enjoy the scenery, and secondly, those who seek sophisticated allegory.

Today, JMW Turner’s Liber Studiorum serves as an enlightening glimpse into the mind of this great British artist. It forms an integral part of his legacy and, even though views have changed vastly since its creation, it’s a wonderfully intelligent collection of classical ideals.

Held within a contemporary glazed frame.

Learn more about Charles Turner in our directory.

Medium: Etching (by JMW Turner) and mezzotint (by Charles Turner) on wove paper
Overall size: 18½” x 15½” / 47cm x 39cm
Year of creation: 1808
Condition: Artwork presents well. A little discolouration around the periphery.
Artist’s auction maximum: Charles Turner (£7,000), JMW Turner (£27,000,000)

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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