Sims Reed Rare Books×

Liber Studiorum

Turner, Joseph Mallord William

London. Published by the artist. 1812 1807–1819
A very good complete set of Turner's famed Liber Studiorum, with all plates on uncut sheets.

Turner's Liber Studiorum, issued in a series of 14 parts of 5 plates per part, was published intermittently over the course of more than a decade. Turner began with the intention to produce the etched foundation of each plate himself and to leave the mezzotint to others, however, he experimented himself and eight of the plates were finished by Turner himself. For the remaining plates, Turner intended originally to use the engraver Charles Turner, but the painter's exacting demands and the disputes they led to made it necessary to use many others. Seventy-one plates were published eventually of a proposed one hundred, with a further twenty printed but never published; the published plates are categorised as architectural, pastoral, marine, historical and mountains with the corresponding initial printed above each. Turner's title for the series, the Liber Studiorum, is a direct reference to the Liber Veritatis of Claude Lorraine.

In the present, complete, copy, the states (as per Finberg) are as follows: 7 plates in first state, 22 plates in second state, 25 plates in third state, 12 plates in fourth state, 5 plates in fifth state and no plates in sixth or later states. Full details of the state of each plate and their order is available on request.

'Were all Turner's paintings and drawings destroyed, his LIBER STUDIORUM would suffice to establish his reputation as one of the great artists of Europe ... the work contains some of the freshest and most vigorous outpourings of Turner's genius ... LIBER STUDIORUM is the work of a young man. Artists sometimes like poets do their best work when they are young. It may be that Turner's LIBER STUDIORUM contains the pith of all that is best in his life and work.' (Finberg).

' ... a truly monumental work, taking rank with the highest production of Turner's genius, and exhibiting intimately his strength, as indeed also his weakness, during a period of his life in which a large part of his strongest and soberest ... work was done ... '. (Rawlinson).

[Finberg 1 - 71; see also Rawlinson, Turner's Liber Studiorum, London 1878].
2 vols. Folio. (364 x 520 mm). Each vol. with sheet of thick card with elaborate manuscript title, vol. number and list of plates in black ink and 71 etched mezzotint and aquatint plates (vol. I with plates numbered 1 - 35, vol. II with 36 - 71) printed in warm sanguine or sepia ink on uncut sheets of laid or wove paper as applicable with stab marks at left and retaining deckle edges, each plate mounted to sheet of card with passepartout, pencil numeration to passepartouts at lower right. Plates by J. M. W. Turner (10 plates), I. C. Easling (4), C. Turner (23), W. Say (11), R. Dunkarton (5), Thos. Lupton (4), S. W. Reynolds (2), F. C. Lewis (1), W. Annis (1), H. Dawe (4), Th. Hodgetts (3), Annis and Easling (1) and G. Clint (2) after J. M. W. Turner. One plate with several old repairs, occasional foxing or soiling; several plates with pencil annotations recto or verso in various hands. Various sheet sizes: c.300 x 440 mm; mount size: 344 x 508 mm. Contemporary green morocco portfolios by Agnew & Sons with their partial label to front pastedown of vol. I, front boards with rules in gilt and blind with floral corner tools, titles gilt to spines, cream glazed board lining and flaps, turn-ins ruled in gilt, green silk ties.

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