Joseph Mallord William Turner

Moonlight at the Château


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

Watercolour on paper
Support: 190 x 269 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 221

Catalogue entry

This composition relates directly to that of Tate D20817 (Turner Bequest CCXXVII a 14), a smaller and relatively detailed colour study on buff paper. Among other potential Scottish and Yorkshire subjects,1 Eric Shanes has tentatively linked the present variant to Turner’s vignette design Captivity for the 1834 edition of Samuel Rogers’s Poems;2 the finished watercolour of the subject is Tate D27704 (Turner Bequest CCLXXX 187).
The mullioned and transomed castle window lit from within, foliage, entrance and pale towers are all elaborated there, although the shadowy bridge in the foreground here is replaced by a partially raised drawbridge to give a greater sense of isolation to the woman peering from the window over Rogers’s ‘green-mantled moat’ (‘Captivity’, line 8). Tate D27527 (Turner Bequest CCLXXX 10) is an alternative design, an equally loose, exploratory watercolour showing the occupant of a cell lit by a similar, heavily framed window, the key element of Turner’s image.
See Shanes 1997, pp.97, 100, 101, 103,
Ibid., pp.97, 99.
Blank; inscribed by ?John Ruskin in pencil ‘AB 218 P O’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII | 221’ bottom left.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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