England and Wales

The full title of this series of engravings is "Picturesque Views in England and Wales". The plates were engraved on copper after Turner, and issued initially in twenty-four numbers between 1827 and 1838 ( Works, 3.235n). It has been described as Turner's 'central and most ambitious work in black-and-white'. For a full account of the work, see Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W.Turner, pp.xlvii-l.

Writing to Liddell in 1844, Ruskin emphasised the importance of the series in Turner 's ouevre, focusing on its unity: 'every one of them has a certain part to play and story to tell and gap to fill with reference to the rest' ( Works, 3.675). This aspect of his attitude to the work invites comparison with his concept of the unity of the Liber Studiorum. This did not prevent him from recognising some inequality in the series, some being among Turner's finest works, but others showing 'coarseness and conventionality' ( Works, 3.235). Many of the plates were recommended for study in The Elements of Drawing (1857) ( Works, 15.75n). In his catalogue of the 1878 exhibition of Turner drawings from his own collection, Ruskin expressed his view that the England and Wales series represents Turner's 'central power and dominant feelings in middle life, towards his native country', but he was saddened that the England which Turner had depicted was passing away ( Works, 13.440-1). As late as 1881 he would still refer to the series as 'the great central work of Turner's life' ( Works, 30.37).