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Turner made three pencil sketches of Bamborough Castle in 1797, attracted particularly by the dramatic impact its outline makes on the horizon. He was alert to the dangers of this part of the Northumberland coast and noted the hull of a wrecked vessel below the castle in his sketch from the north. It was that sketch he chose to develop forty years later for one of his most ambitious late watercolours. First shown at the Graphic Society in 1837, the scene of wreckers at work below the castle was the last watercolour Turner submitted to a public exhibition (it is now in a private collection in America). This study is one of four in which he set out the composition of the finished work.

September 2004