Apuleia in Search of Apuleius (unpublished plate, Liber Studiorum)
Designed and etched by Joseph Mallord William Turner (British, London 1775–1851 London)
William Say (British, Lakenham, near Norwich 1768–1834 London)
Etching and mezzotint; engraver's proof b (Finberg)
plate: 7 1/4 x 10 9/16 in. (18.4 x 26.8 cm)
sheet: 8 1/4 x 11 1/2 in. (21 x 29.2 cm)
Gift of Theodore De Witt, 1917
Not on view
Intended as part of Turner's "Liber Studiorum" (Latin for Book of Studies), but never published by the artist, this engraver's proof was made as Say added mezzotint to develop tone under Turner's direction. The composition derives from a premium-winning painting shown at the British Institution in 1814, now at the National Gallery, London. In the foreground, Apuleia, whom Turner invented as a wife for a shepherd mentioned in Ovid's" Metamorphoses," unveils herself to a group of shepherdesses. The landscape is enlivened by a multi-arched classical bridge that spans a river near a temple, and the composition embodies Arcadian qualities associated with Claude. The finished plate was sold in 1873 with other unpublished Liber compositions, and subsequently printed and circulated.
Donor: Theodore de Witt
Finberg 72 engraver's proof b; Rawlinson 72 proof
William George Rawlinson Turner's Liber Studiorum: A Description and A Catalogue. Macmillan & Co., 2nd ed. London, 1906, cat. no. 72 (proof), pp. 169-70.
Alexander Joseph Finberg The History of Turner's Liber Studiorum, with a new catalogue raisonné. Ernest Benn Limited, London, 1924, cat. no. 72 (proof), pp. 289-90.
Kathleen Nicholson "Turner's "Apulia in Search of Appulus" and the Dialectics of the Landscape" Burlington Magazine. vol. 120, 1980, pp. 679-84.
Martin Butlin, Evelyn Joll The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner.. Yale University Press, New Haven, 1984, cat. no. 128, pp. 91-2.
Gillian Forrester Turner's 'Drawing Book': The Liber Studiorum, exh. cat., London, Tate Gallery, 20 February–2 June. London, 1996, illustrates: related oil painting, exh. 1814 (Tate Britain), and engraver's proof, cat. no. 72, pp. 133-4.