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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.

February 2004