Joseph Mallord William Turner
Interior of a Great House: The Drawing Room, East Cowes Castle c.1830

Artwork details

Interior of a Great House: The Drawing Room, East Cowes Castle
Date c.1830
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 908 x 1219 mm
frame: 1239 x 1550 x 96 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Display caption

The upper part is unfinished, having only transparent washes in thinned oil paint. Turner’s design developments are all in the lower portion, including a group of people around the piano, coffin or altar to the right, sketchily represented and later painted over. Near the centre, he applied emerald green and bright red vermilion in a resin-rich paint that cracked as it dried, to give a strong colour contrast. Emerald green was the first intensely green pigment Turner could obtain, and had not long been available. Previous generations and many of his own circle mixed greens from blue and yellow, to give less intense and more harmonious shades.

The dazzling light was created by using a palette knife, a brush, the brush-end, scratches from Turner’s thumb-nail (kept long for this purpose), and light blue paint to contrast with the yellow. This contrast is now muted by yellowed varnish, which suppresses blue tones.

February 2010

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