Made with the page turned horizontally, this is the only drawing that Turner made of the castle at Alnwick. He returned here on his road north in 1801 – see the Helmsley sketchbook (Tate D40776; Turner Bequest LIII, inside back cover), where ‘Alnwick’ appears in a list of towns between Helmsley and Inveraray – but made no further note of the building. However, he put this one to good use in the striking nocturne that he created in about 1829 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide),1 engraved by J.T. Willmore in 1830 (Tate impression: T05084).
The house had been neglected in the earlier eighteenth century, but was extensively restored in the 1770s by Robert Adam, who designed a new bridge to replace one destroyed in a flood in 1770. It takes its name from the cast lead lion, the Percy family crest, designed by John Knowles and placed over the central of the three arches in 1773. The lion is inconspicuous in Turner’s rendering of the bridge, both in this drawing and more so in his later watercolour. One might infer that he indeed drew the scene at night and was unable to make out salient details.
Wilton 1979, p.395 no.818, reproduced.
Blank; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.