View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Bow and Arrow Castle is also known as Rufus Castle, apparently by association with the Norman King William II (William ‘Rufus’, 1087–1100). It stands above Church Ope Cove on the south-eastern side of the Isle of Portland and is here seen from the north-east. Turner’s viewpoint is accessible from the lane by the Portland Museum off Wakeham Street, Easton, via a footpath through the archway on the right. In an rare revision, Turner has drawn the arch twice, the upper version giving it rather more prominence than in reality. At the time of his visit the foreground was a quarry.
Finberg notes that this sketch and that on folio 27 recto (D08838) are the sources for the watercolour Bow and Arrow Castle, Isle of Portland of about 1815 (University of Liverpool),1 engraved in 1817 for the Picturesque Views on the Southern Coast of England2 (see the concordance of the series in the 1811 tour introduction). The composition is largely based on the present drawing, with its dramatic, steep view up from the castle’s setting of solid rock with a prominent vertical fissure to the massive corbels which still survive on its roofline. The mock-medieval Pennsylvania Castle, recorded in the sketch made on folio 27 recto from further back and higher up, is included in the watercolour, where it is just visible through and above the archway; Turner also introduced numerous quarrymen working in the foreground. He wrote of the Portland quarries in verse in the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate D08484; Turner Bequest CXXIII 61).
There is some rubbing or spotting from the centre of the drawing upwards. The sheet is slightly darkened from prolonged display; the edges are unaffected, having been protected by a display mount.
Blank, save for inscriptions by John Ruskin in red ink ‘23’ bottom left and ‘636’ top right, both upside down.
You might like
After Joseph Mallord William Turner Bow and Arrow Castle, Isle of Portland, Dorsetshire
After Joseph Mallord William Turner Bow and Arrow Castle, Isle of Portland, engraved by W.B. Cooke