Joseph Mallord William Turner

Cowes from the Battlements of East Cowes Castle

1827

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 110 x 185 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D20757
Turner Bequest CCXXVII 16 a

Catalogue entry

The drawing is inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation. Subsequent to Finberg’s 1909 Inventory, he noted that rather than his tentative identification of the subject as Norris Point on the Isle of Wight,1 it is ‘Inscribed EC Castle | View from East Cowes Castle looking | West | JPH’;2 the initials are those of the etcher and collector John Postle Heseltine (1843–1929), whose occasionally suggestions are noted in copies of the Inventory at Tate Britain (another case being in relation to folio 38 recto; D20789; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 36). The Turner scholar C.F. Bell also recorded the subject as ‘E. C[owes] Castle’,3 presumably also prompted by Turner’s inscription.
The view beneath billowing clouds is from the battlemented roof of East Cowes Castle, the Isle of Wight home of the architect John Nash where Turner enjoyed an extended stay in the late summer of 1827, looking north-west over the mouth of the River Medina to Cowes, with the tower of St Mary’s Church (also designed by Nash) on the hill and Cowes Castle on the shore at the far right, and the coast of Hampshire across the Solent beyond.
The house no longer exists, but it and Turner’s visit are discussed in the Introduction to the present tour and in the Introduction to the subsection of ink drawings on blue paper showing various aspects of the castle and its surroundings; those separate sheets include three similar views (Tate D24861–D24863; Turner Bequest CCLX 25, 26, 27). Compare also the views of Cowes from the east in the contemporary Cowes Regatta and Windsor and Cowes, Isle of Wight sketchbooks (Tate D18028, D20662; Turner Bequest CCVII 21, CCXXVI 40a).
The present sketch is perhaps the best evidence to link this sketchbook to 1827 in particular; for Isle of Wight views on other pages see under folio 2 recto (D20735).

Matthew Imms
November 2015

1
Finberg 1909, II, p.699.
2
Undated MS notes by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, II, opposite p.699.
3
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, II, p.699.

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