Fallacies of Hope paintings, with some other relevant poems by Turner and others,



Turner Images 

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It seems to us very questionable to omit from Turner’ s pictures the poetry, his own and that of others, with which he accompanied them, for their better understanding, as the Tate has done on its website

Hence the following page where these have been restored



(Replace : Is same as talk for Wat seminar and introductory chapter to doctorat )

In 1798 the RA authorized for the first time verse in its catalogue

On this occasion, Turner exhibited ten pictures, adding verse-quotations to five of them, 1 from Milton, 4 from Thomson’s Seasons (Play Handel’s rendering here ? 


In 1812 he attached for the first time an exemple of his own poetic handiwork, inscribed as coming  from a long poem, The Fallacies of Hope,


The Tate website has systematically  omitted all (or the great majority) of  the these poetic addenda from their website of what they call the Turner Collection

We believe that to include them is to act in accordance with Turner’s wishes and that  they add considerably to our understanding to the pictures to which they are appended


Let us begin  with  the first two Carthage pictures, of 1815 and 1817.



 Dido building Carthage,  exh. 1815,  BJ 131, National Gallery, London.                       This is the title to be found on the National gallery website

We will restore Turner’s full   title :  Dido building Carthage, or the Rise of the Carthaginian Empire, as to found in  the RA catalogue of 1815    

Why this abbreviation, or cutting things in half ? to avoid the weighty question?

The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire ... exhibited 1817 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

BJ  THE DECLINE OF THE CARTHAGINIAN EMPIRE                                                                   EMPIRE,  Rome being determined on the overthrow of her hated rival demanded from her such terms  as might either force her into  war or ruin her by compliance :  the enervated Carthagians,  in their anxiety for peace, consented  to give up even their arms  and their children, exh. 1817  

(Did they not fight Rome to the bitter end ? ) 

. . . At Hope’s delusive smile,                                                                                                The chieftain’s safety and the mother’s pride,                                                                        Were to the  insidious  conqu’or’s grasp resign’d;                                                            While o’er the western  wave th’ensanguin’d sun                                                               In gathering haze a stormy signal spread,                                                                            And set portentous.

Though this poem is not said by Turner to be  from the Fallacies  of Hope ms, the conception of these pictures is in the same spirit, it seem to us.

The Tate website, which omitted the greater part  of Turner’s title, and Turner’s poetry from the RA catalogue, nevertheless is correct here for once and seems to recognizes and acknowledges that there is a pointed?  moral to this  picture

This is we find the on the Tate website :                                                                                  “Turner saw the rise and fall of once-great empires as a historical inevitability, confirmed by the fall of Napoleon, but threatening to overtake the victorious British.”

This is all the more to the merit of the Tate that they may explicit what is only implicit in Turner

As Butlin and Joel mention, John Gage had allready stressed this fact in an article in 1974 had pointed out that such comparisons of the rise and fall of empires and their application to the contemporary situation were a commonplace in the 18th and 19th as in Goldsmith’s ….and Gibbon’s ….    (where in each ? )







Include Dolbadern castle or later on ?

The next picture we will comment is :

Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps exhibited 1812 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

126 Snowstorm, Hannibal and his Army Crossing  the Alps, 1812

This painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1812  and accompanied in the catalogue of the exhibit by the following verses by Turner, described for the first time as coming from his ‘MS. P(oem?) Fallacies of Hope’.

“Craft, treachery and fraud – Salassian force,                                                                     Hung  on the fainting rear ! Then Plunder seized                                                                    The victor and the captive,- Sagentum’s spoil                                                                                  Alike became their prey; still the chief advanced                                                             Look’d on the sun with hope; – low,  broad,  and wan;                                                                 While the fierce archer of the downward year                                                                 Stains Italy’s blanched barrier with storms                                                                                 In vain each pass, ensanguin’d deep with dead,                                                                         Or rocky fragments, wide destruction rolled,                                                                            Still on Campania’s fertile plains — he thought,                                                                        But the loud breeze sob’d, “Capua’s joys beware ! ”





To be completed

The Tate Britain  website has left out these verses

According  to the Tate, the picture is about


According  to Turners’ verse this is not the fundament meaning od the picture in general or philosophical term


Lindsay aries that, this being the first use o, it was die to sme


Indeed historically this avnet would lead to the pauperization to the peasant class, od which Engela would describe an episode in the …a work which wold have mementos conseueces on Mar views


Palestrina - Composition 1828, exhibited 1830 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

14/3 195  BJ Palestrina – Composition Exh 1830 with the following verses :

14/3 BJ 295 ?  Palestrina – Composition 1828, exhibited 1830


“Or from yon mural rock, hugh crowned Preneste                                                         Where,  misdeeming of his strength, the Carthaginian, stood,                                                    And marked with eagle eye, Rome as his victim.”

MS  Fallacies of Hope





Italian Landscape, probably Civita di Bagnoregio 1828 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

301 Italian Landscape, probably Civita di Bagnoregio, 1828 ?  

Ravishing, on the way to the late informel  Liber style of painting

Southern Landscape with an Aqueduct and Waterfall ?1828 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

BJ 200

Ravishing. Another example of the same



374 Ancient Italy, Ovid banished

The  titles of the next two works are taken from the first part of Thomson’s poem Liberty

As Macawley writes in his study of Thomson,


Modern Italy - the Pifferari exhibited 1838 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851


375 Modern Italy- the Pifferari


Ancient Rome; Agrippina Landing with the Ashes of Germanicus exhibited 1839 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-185120/   378 Ancient Rome : Agrippina landing with the Ashes of Germanicus. The Triumphal Bridge and Palace of the Caesars restored   exh 1839, BJ 378 

Exhibited with the following lines


“_________The clear stream                                                                                                  Aye, -the yellow Tiber glimmers in her beam,                                                                   Even while the sun  is setting”

Butlin and Joel comment : “In his verses Turner is presumably referring to this incident as a stage in the decline of Rome”



Here is the literal  transcript of the commentary on this picture in the introductory film to the Turner Collection on the Tate website by B Blaney  Browne    1-3.45

“(1.51)  This painting is  called Ancient Rome, Agrippina landing with the ashes of Germanicus  which is perhaps rather a daunting title today but the story of Agrippina was very well known to Turners’s generation     and it is all about the dedication of a widow whose husband died at Antioch possibly  poisoned possibly murdered but she was absolutely devoted to him  and she brought his ashes back to Italy not in fact to Rome as Turner shows in the picture  but to Brindisi he ‘d been reading the wrong book he’d been reading a? roman history  which told the story slightly wrong (2.35) got the place of her arrival slightly wrong but that does really not matter he’s used the picture to reconstruct the architecture  of ancient Rome.

2.44 Quite often the stories Turner is telling  are quite hard to divine (ricern)  because ?  the main interest to him is the background or the landscape or in this case the architecture (3.01)

3.07  By  the time Turner painted this  picture one of his main interest was  ?  light sunlight mist and it is wonderful to see how this great vision of the ancient city seems to be both emerging and dissolving  in the mist (3.26) end of commentary Meet 500 years of British art supported by BP”

Very questionable on many points or la lot of nonsense


That Turner was interest in does not mean is was his main interest

We believe Turner was in great part a, historical painter, his main  terest was in the historical process, as Linsay ha s aptly put it

Some silly comments in                                                                                                                   Browne introductory film to Turner collection website analyses this picture

Browne introductory film to Turner collection website

Draws spectator into film …(good )

But the rest of this commentary is inept

Replace :

Utterly sily as  introdiction to Turner

Of course we feel meaning is important

Sun has you, (hypocrite lecteur)  in his aim


I suggest he stand for a good moment in front if the Angel standing i the sub , si that the angel can unleaech his fury against the bit of balderdash




Caligula's Palace and Bridge exhibited 1831 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

15/4 BJ 337 Caligula’s Palace and Bridge exhibited 1831

What now remains of all the mighty bridge                                                                                   Which made the Lacrine lake another pool                                                                       Caligula, but mighty fragments  left








Childe Harold's Pilgrimage - Italy exhibited 1832 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

342 Child Harold’s Pilgrimage – Italy


It might be useful to have in mind also The first two lines of this stanza which are :

‘Commonwealth of Kings….

Add music of ….Berlioz ? J?


The Prince of Orange, William III, Embarked from Holland, and Landed at Torbay, November 4th, 1688, after a Stormy Passage exhibited 1832 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851


343 The Prince of Orange, William III, Embarked from Holland, and Landed at Torbay, November 4th, 1688, after a Stormy Passage

This picture was exhibited  in 1832 with a reference to ‘-” History of England” ‘  and the text  ‘The yacht in which his majesty sailed was after many changes and services, finally wrecked on the Hambourg sands, while employed in the Hull trade’

Lindsay suggest that here is an allegorical intent : ‘Turner reminds of the twist that distorts men’s aims and hopes ; the triumphant ship of liberty is  wrecked in the end    as the mere instrument of trade’.


The Tate webste completely ignores these notes of Turner, qualifying them as   The only thing the Tate website says about this point is that

1832 as a year fruofil in political events





Lindsay suggests that this painting  was done in reaction (in relation) to contemporary events :


The reference is a vague history of England


Lindsay adds : there is perhaps an allegorical intent in the above note added above: That is Tuner reminds


We will come back to this point later on



This is the Tate Display caption, with its usual nitpicking, which misses the main point : 

‘This representation of an historical event contains a number of errors. William’s fleet had indeed been beaten back to base in October 1688 but on 1 November sailed in perfect weather, landing on 5 November. Like various earlier Dutch-inspired compositions, this, too, carries a political message connected with Anglo-Dutch relations. Here, Turner criticises again British non-intervention in the Belgian revolt, which was to lead to the termination in 1839 of the United Netherlands. In the Academy catalogue Turner added a curious note about the Prince having sailed his yacht, not a frigate – a confusion with his arrival in a yacht for his wedding to Princess Mary on 4th (!) November 1677.’




Peace - Burial at Sea exhibited 1842 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851399 Peace burial at sea

War. The Exile and the Rock Limpet exhibited 1842 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851400 War 


The Sun of Venice Going to Sea exhibited 1843 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851


‘Fair shines the morn, and soft the zephyrs blow                                                                               Venezia’s fisher spreads his painted sail so gay,                                                                     Nor heeds the demon that in grim repose                                                                                  Expects his evening prey.’                                                                                                                          Fallacies of Hope M.S.



Il ya unje not interssante de Ruskin

much to the admiration of the collectors of the subilline leaves of the FH




The Angel Standing in the Sun exhibited 1846 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851425 The Angel Standing in the Sun exhibited 1846


Dido and Aeneas series



Omit these pictures late Aeneas pictures or replace them elsewhere ?

II c                     The Aeneas and Dido pictures. 

                                   Backing up this hypothsis  is a narrative sequence of four pictures about Dido and Aeneas, taken from Vergil’s Aeneid, exhibited  at the Royal Academy in 1850, the year before Turner’s death, and which may constitute Turner’s definitive “testamentary” work.

Turner had allready treated  themes from the Aeneid 6 times.


The 1850 series  confirm the hypotheses concerning the question of violence or excess of power and the role of nature.  The first of these pictures is :






“Aeneas relating his tale to Dido”, cat. 430, destroyed, formerly TB,  Online 297 ? , see photograph,

accompanied with the verses


‘Fallacious   Hope beneath the moon’s pale crescent shone,

Dido  listened to Troy being lost and won.’

-MS., Fallacies of Hope. 


the second is :


The Visit to the Tomb exhibited 1850 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

“The visit to the Tomb”, cat. 431, pl. 417, Online 298 ?

accompanied with the line :


‘The sun went down in wrath at such deceit.’

-MS., Fallacies of Hope. 

the third is


Mercury Sent to Admonish Aeneas exhibited 1850 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

Mercury sent to Admonish Aeneas”, cat 429, pl. 416, online 299 ? accompanied with the line :


“Beneath the morning mist,

Mercury waited to tell him of his neglected fleet.”

-MS., Fallacies of Hope,


the fourth is


The Departure of the Fleet exhibited 1850 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

The Departure of the Fleet”, cat. 432, pl. 418, online 300 ?

accompanied with the lines :


“The orient moon shone on the departing fleet,

Nemesis invoked, the priest held the poisoned cup.”

-Ms., Fallacies of Hope.

Some concluding remarks ?

Why must understand Empire of Decline of C Empire in an extensice sense



1/8 Snowstorm, 1812, with first quotation from Fallacies

2/9 Battle of Fort Rock

12 Decline of CE 1817

3/14 Palestrina – Composition

4/15 Caligula’s Palace and Bridge, 1830

5/16 Vision  Medea



20 Ancient Rome

7/21 Slavers

8/22 Peace – Burial at Sea

9/23 War

10/24 Opening of Wallhalla

11/25  Sun of Venice going to sea

12/26 Shade and Darkness

13/27  Light and

14-17/28-31 Last 4 Dido pictures ? p. 52 ( ‘Finally we have the group dealing with



Discuss the issue with Terry

Empire in broad sens of the term

If correct there ought to be some action

This shows a pet tern on behavior

Not so foolish


Empire must be understood in broad sense : goes westward to US, then in broad sense of humanity at large, see sign on Bod St Germain



All art no morality in Turner

convent for,them can ignore Turner conditions


Il we take all the quote from the fallacies of Hope, we found they all amount to a sort of sermon to the Nation, no faltering,  no excess, no abuse of power

Why not

the nation ?  can do with a sermon occasionally, and even perhaps regularly


Quote Lindsay 66, p. 48 , poet and prophet…



This was commonly applied to modern times





This seems to us all the more so as these two paintings made up Turner’s bequest of ……….Finish



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