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Joseph Mallord William Turner

1775 – 1851

Water Cress Gatherers by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Water Cress Gatherers   1819

  Original etching by J.M.W. Turner, with mezzotint by Thomas Lupton.
With the artists’ names in the plate.
Ref: Finberg 62 iii/iii
S 267 x 356 mm; P 218 x 290 I 188 x 265 mm
A particularly early impression in the completed state of the plate, printed in dark brown ink. As published for Part XIII of the Liber Studiorum. This image is particularly characteristic of Turner’s ability to use a dramatic sky to introduce a Romantic element into his composition. The engraved letter ‘P’ above the subject denotes its categorisation as ‘Pastoral’.

Water Cress Gatherers was engraved for the series entitled Liber Studiorum – the most important and the greatest single product of Turner’s life’s work. J.M.W.Turner worked on this series of etchings with mezzotint and aquatint from about 1806 until 1823 and he intended it to be the summation of his entire artistic œuvre. This monumental publication thus occupied over fifteen years of Turner’s life and was never completed, being abandoned for unknown reasons in 1823. The last published issue of the series was released in 1819, bringing the total number of published plates to 71, of which only 10 were finished by J.M.W. Turner himself.

The Liber Studiorum became, without doubt, the single most influential publication in the history of British Romantic landscape art. Not only were the pictures it contained to have considerable influence on many artists over the following decades, but the publication itself was to provide a model for men like Constable and others to follow.

All of the works in this series were etched by J.M.W. Turner himself, and the majority were based on sketches or paintings he had made, often some years previously. After Turner had completed the etched work this plate, together with 60 other etched plates etched by Turner, was passed to a commercial engraver whom the artist employed to add shading and tone through mezzotint engraving across the surface of the plate. This work leaves the recessed etched lines relatively undisturbed which, therefore, still represent the great artist’s original work.

On warm white laid paper with margins. Mild time tone within mat window area; some marginal defects, otherwise good original condition.