In 1798 the Royal Academy for the first time allowed quotations to appear in the catalogue of the summer exhibition. The quotation Turner chose to illustrate Buttermere Lake, one of the paintings he exhibited that year, was less than startling. The painting shows a boat drifting, as the rowers contemplate a sombre landscape that has been blessed by a pale rainbow. Turner chose the lines from Thomson’s Spring which were the most famous of all eighteenth-century attempts to explain the contribution made by Newton’s Opticks to the aesthetic appreciation of natural appearances:


Manifold Amid Refraction Lost Metaphor 


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  1. 4.
    John Gage, Colour in Turner (London, 1969) p.252.Google Scholar
  2. Jack Lindsay, The Sunset Ship: The Poems of J. M. W. Turner (London, 1966) pp. 56–7.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Marjorie Hope Nicolson, Newton Demands the Muse ( Princeton, N.J., 1946 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard Cronin 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Cronin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GlasgowUK

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