Joseph Mallord William Turner

Brancepeth Castle


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 116 x 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLVII 74 a

Catalogue entry

Other views of Brancepeth Castle, south-west of Durham, are on folios 15 recto and 16 recto (D12335, D12336); for its history and general situation, see the entry for folio 15 recto. Between about 1818 and 1821, shortly after Turner’s visit, the castle was extensively remodelled for its owner Matthew Russell by the Scottish architect John Paterson, when a gatehouse with two massive round towers was built out from the north-east corner of the curtain wall,1 replacing the archway and flanking towers seen in this drawing. A distinctive medieval watchtower, projecting here from the northern corner of the machicolated curtain wall, still survives to the right of the entrance, with another beyond it to the south-west as summarily indicated by Turner.
The loose receding lines in the foreground indicate the track approaching the castle from the east, rather than the river that Finberg suggests. There is a sketch from further back on folio 75 verso (D12412).

Matthew Imms
February 2010

English Heritage listing quoted at ‘Brancepeth Castle, Brancepeth; Listed building (Brancepeth)’, Keys to the Past, accessed 20 January 2010,; see also Howard Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600–1840, 4th ed., New Haven and London 2008, p.787.

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