On loan to: Chiostro del Bramante (Rome, Italy)
Exhibition: Turner Watercolours
Turner visited Hylton Castle near Sunderland towards the end of October 1817.1 Its owner, the 10th Earl of Strathmore, commissioned a watercolour of the house to be engraved for publication. This lively ‘colour beginning’ lays out the key composition and colour relationships present in Turner’s finished landscape watercolour (private collection).2 It was engraved by Samuel Rawle (1771–1860) and included as Hylton Castle, Co. of Durham in the second volume of Robert Surtees’s The History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham (1820). For information about the project, see the Introduction to this section.
The foreground is dominated by the hill to the left, the warm brownish yellow paint contrasting against the blue and white of the sky. As in some of his History of Richmondshire colour studies, Turner used a dry brush technique to quickly denote plant textures, with no suggestion of the figures we see in the finished composition presented within the colour study. The white of the paper is used to indicate the castle itself. The composition of both the colour study and the finished watercolour largely follow that of a pencil drawing of 1817 in Turner’s Raby sketchbook (Tate D12276; Turner Bequest CLVI 10).
A dry brush technique has been used in the hillside. A thumbprint is visible within the paint near the centre. There is a series of colour tests in the upper left of the sheet.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘32’ centre, and ‘P’ bottom right; stamped in black ‘CXCVII–P’ bottom left, and with Turner Bequest monogram bottom left.