Junction of Severn and Wye, 1811

Etching, aquatint and mezzotint on paper

Etched and engraved by J.M.W. Turner, after J.M.W. Turner

‘Epic/Elevated Pastoral’

The Junction of the Severn and the Wye

This print is a view towards where the River Wye joins the Severn estuary, with Chepstow Castle in the middle distance. The viewpoint is from Piercefield Park on the Welsh side of the Wye, looking south. This is the prospect described in detail by the Rev. William Gilpin (1724–1804) in his influential and popular Observations on the River Wye and Several Parts of South Wales … (London 1782).

‘The views on this side, are not the romantic steeps of the Wye: but though of another species, they are equally grand. They are chiefly distances; consisting of the vast waters of the Severn, here an arm of the sea; bounding a remote country – of the mouth of the Wye entering the Severn – and the town of Chepstow, and its castle, and abbey.’

This was the first of the published Libers to be both etched and engraved by Turner himself. It was one of the five prints published in Part VI of the Liber Studiorum, on 1 June 1811.

Because this engraving was entirely the work of Turner’s hand, Victorian writers regarded it more highly than the other prints in the series. Rawlinson was effusive: ‘One of the most beautiful of the Liber subjects. Fine impressions have a certain rare bloom on them – if I may use the word. They seem to recall the indescribable bright freshness one has sometimes seen over a landscape on a June morning, when the increasing warmth of the sun has just – only just – cleared off the early mists, and, with a clear sky overhead, everything is sparkling with dew…It is difficult to believe that mezzotinting such as we have here was done without training and almost without practice.’

This was the first of the published Libers to be both etched and engraved by Turner himself. It was one of the five prints published in Part VI of the Liber Studiorum, on 1 June 1811.

Because this engraving was entirely the work of Turner’s hand, Victorian writers regarded it more highly than the other prints in the series. Rawlinson was effusive: ‘One of the most beautiful of the Liber subjects. Fine impressions have a certain rare bloom on them – if I may use the word. They seem to recall the indescribable bright freshness one has sometimes seen over a landscape on a June morning, when the increasing warmth of the sun has just – only just – cleared off the early mists, and, with a clear sky overhead, everything is sparkling with dew…It is difficult to believe that mezzotinting such as we have here was done without training and almost without practice.’

Livermore Bequest, 2010

LDTHT: 2010.26

On display in the Sitting Room

 

October 26, 2018