View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Dating from the early twelfth century, Prudhoe Castle passed from the d’Umfraville barons of Prudhoe to the powerful Percy family (whose other Northumberland properties included Alnwick Castle) in 1398; it is now an English Heritage property. After falling into ruin it was partly restored in about 1818, not long after Turner’s visit, when a house for the castle steward was built within the walls.1
The castle appears as in perfunctory outline on the skyline towards the right as the main focus of a two-page view, which continues to the right on folio 77 verso opposite (D12416) with the wooded north bank of the River Tyne and a glimpse of the hills beyond Prudhoe. Turner’s viewpoint is the north side of the river along the Wylam to Ovingham road near Howdene Bridge, looking south-west up the Tyne to the castle, past Hagg Bank on the left and the small island in the river on the right. The far side of the valley below the castle is now industrialised and flanked by the Newcastle to Carlisle railway, but the foreground remains rural.
The double-page sketch was the main source for the watercolour Prudhoe Castle, Northumberland of about 1825 (British Museum, London),2 engraved in 1828 for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales. As various commentators have noted, the hills are further exaggerated and simplified in the watercolour as the castle merges with its setting in a blue silhouette as if it were one of the castles on the Rhine crags which he had observed on his journey along that river in 1817, just before his visit to Durham and Northumberland (see the introduction to the tour); he also introduced an extensive foreground with seated figures and a brilliant, low, Claude Lorrain-style afternoon sun above the ruin.3
‘Prudhoe Castle’, English Heritage, accessed 10 February 2010, http://www
.english; [Sarah Yates (ed.)], Heritage Unlocked: Guide to Free [English Heritage] Sites in Yorkshire & the North East, London 2004, p.97. -heritage .org .uk /server /show /nav .18764
Wilton 1979, reproduced p.175 (colour), p.393 no.798.
See Wilton 1975, p.74, Shanes 1979 pp.26–7, Shanes 1990, pp.73, 284 note 120, Sloan 1998, p.92.