Joseph Mallord William Turner

Figures on a Hillside, with a Standing Stone


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

Graphite on paper
Support: 79 x 130 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XLVI 55

Catalogue entry

The standing stone in this sketch, drawn with the page turned horizontally, is presumably one of the components of a Neolithic stone circle, probably that situated on the moors above Penmaenmawr and known today as the ‘Druids’ Circle’. Turner seems to have followed an inland route along the coast, traveling from Conwy to Prenmaenmawr, as demonstrated by the view in the Sychnant Pass on folios 57 verso–58 recto (D02084–D02085).
The stone may be that in the composition study on folio 109 recto (D02156), which is evidently connected with the pair of watercolours telling the story of the destruction of the Welsh Bards by Edward I (Tate D04164,1 D04168; Turner Bequest LXX M, Q); see also folio 1 recto (D01993). Turner may have been told that the site was known as ‘the Bards’ Well’, and considered using elements observed on the spot as components of one or other of his Bardic compositions.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.329 no.263, pl.52.

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