Joseph Mallord William Turner

Caernarvon Castle, North Wales

exhibited 1800

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

Watercolour on paper
Support: 706 x 1055 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXX M

Display caption

Turner had visited Caernarvon Castle on his tour of Wales in 1798. Here he enriches a panoramic view of the castle and its surroundings with historical and literary associations. The Castle had been built by Edward I in the thirteenth century, and was a symbol of the oppression of the Welsh. Turner introduces a figure of a bard, lamenting his countrymen who had died during the English invasion. In this way he associates the scene with Thomas Gray’s popular poem on this theme, The Bard, while also drawing a parallel with the repressive wartime regime of the current British government.

Gallery label, February 2004

Catalogue entry