Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Waterway with Shipping and a Castle, Possibly Caernarfon

c.1825–38

View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 365 x 549 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25484
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 361

Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes has suggested that this colour study may relate to the watercolour Caernarvon Castle of about 1832–3 (British Museum, London),1 engraved in 1835 for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04603, T06112).2 Although they share loose compositional similarities, with a castle on the right above water and shipping to the left, there are significant differences in detail: the overall profile of the castle in the present study, with what appears to be a square keep rising above the dark curtain walls, does not correlate closely with the layout of Caernarfon, and details of windows or gaps in the ruined walls towards the left appear quite specific, although they have not as yet been matched with any of Turner’s pencil sketches. For further discussion of Caernarfon, see the entry for a likely colour study of the site, Tate D25131 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 9).
Shanes has made a tentative comparison with a small pencil study of domed Venetian churches and shipping in the 1840 Venice and Botzen sketchbook (Tate D31865; Turner Bequest CCCXIII 38a),3 although any compositional similarities appear very slight and are probably entirely fortuitous.
In view of the uncertainty regarding the subject, a date of c.1825–38 has been suggested here, reflecting the broad period of Turner’s engagement with the England and Wales project. See also the Introductions to the present subsection of tentatively identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.400 no.857, pl.196.
2
Shanes 1997, pp.94, 96, 106.
3
Ibid., p.103; see also p.106.
Technical notes:
The pale wash just below and to the right of the central tower appears to have been rubbed or lifted to give an indication of the reflection on water of light through the openings in the ruin at that point.
Verso:
Blank

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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