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This painting seems to be an abandoned companion to 'Caernarvon Castle'. Perhaps consciously, the two paintings perfectly illustrate the fashionable aesthetic concepts of 'beautiful' and 'sublime'. It is more faithful, however, to Gray's 'The Bard', particularly where the poem describes Edward I's army winding through Snowdonia (open in a nearby display case). Historically, Edward's final advance in 1283 preceded the building of Caernarvon Castle. It is this earlier moment which lies at the heart of Turner's landscape of breathtaking savageness, paralleling that of the advancing force. The archetypal image of the Bard issuing his curse from the mountains above is absent, although this is perhaps experimented with on another sheet (shown adjacently).

September 2004