Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Ruined Castle: ?Dolwyddelan

1799

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Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 79 x 130 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D02128
Turner Bequest XLVI 89 a

Catalogue entry

Made with the page turned horizontally, this and the sketch on folio 90 recto opposite (D02129) presumably show the same building, though the ruins in each case differ somewhat in scale and extent. Finberg suggested that this might be Dolbadarn Castle,1 but the identification does not seem plausible for either.
A somewhat more likely identification is Dolwyddelan Castle, a thirteenth century fortification on a bleak ridge above the Conwy Valley. Its keep was substantially restored in the nineteenth century, but it was a remote and atmospheric ruin when Turner saw it in 1799, having associations with Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, a prominent opponent of Edward I in his campaigns to subdue Wales, the theme of Turner’s ‘War’ and ‘Peace’ watercolours of 1799–1800 (Tate D04164,2 D04168; Turner Bequest LXX M, Q).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

1
A.J. Finberg (died 1939), undated MS note in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, I, p.117.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.329 no.263, pl.52.

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