TURNER, Joseph Mallord William (1775-1851). Liber studiorum. London: J.M.W. Turner, 1812 [plates dated 1808-1819].
Oblong 2o (291 x 424 mm). 71 etched mezzotint and aquatint plates by J.M.W. Turner, J.C. Easling, Charles Turner, William Say, Robert Dunkarton, Thomas Hodgetts, William Annis, George Clint, F.C. Lewis, Henry Dawe, Thomas Lupton, and S.W. Reynolds after Turner, printed in colored and black inks. Two plates in proof states (Dunstanborough Castle and Interior of a Church), four in first state (including The Junction of the Severn and Wye which Turner mezzotinted himself), fifty in second or third states and the remaining 15 in later states (plates 4 and 5 with soft vertical creases, some pale spotting and pale dampstain in upper margins). Contemporary English green half morocco gilt, by W. Hooper of Portsmouth, with his ticket (some wear at extremities). Provenance: penciled note on endpaper "original subscriber's copy"; John Coucher Dent (bookplate); acquired from Marlborough Rare Books, 1975.
COMPLETE SET OF THIS "TRULY MONUMENTAL WORK, TAKING RANK WITH THE HIGHEST PRODUCTIONS OF TURNER'S GENIUS" (Rawlinson, p.iii). Turner conceived the Liber studiorum in part as a response to Claude Lorrain's volume of drawings entitled Liber veritatis, of which prints were published by John Boydell in three volumes under the same title (London: 1777-1804). The principal purpose of the Liber veritatis was to provide the artist with a private record of his finished oils and their owners, which also served the purpose of providing a reference by which genuine works could be distinguished from forgeries. Whereas Turner's Liber studiorum was always intended for publication, it shared some similarity of purpose. As the work progressed it acquired a momentum that was independent of the inspiration, and became "a truly monumental work, taking rank with the highest productions 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, p.iii). The 71 plates were issued in 14 parts (each containing five etchings) over some four years; in addition to these, a further 20 were printed, but not published. Lowndes pp.2722-2723; W.G. Rawlinson Turner's Liber studiorum (London, 1878).