Joseph Mallord William Turner

Upnor Castle and a Ship of the Line


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 x 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXCIX 23 a

Catalogue entry

This page is occupied by two drawings. One, as identified by Finberg, describes Castle Upnor on the River Medway.1 The other is a sketch of a maritime craft.
The drawing of Upnor Castle has been made with the sketchbook turned vertically. Stretching across the topmost edge of the page, Turner observes the distinctive architecture from the east, possibly from a boat in the river. The handling seems light and reasonably swiftly considered, windows inset exclusively within the left side of the composition.
Ian Warrell relates this sketch to a preparatory watercolour of about 1829–30 (Tate D25246; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 124).2 The latter he describes as ‘almost exact preparation’ for the finished watercolour Castle Upnor, Kent painted in around 1831–2 (Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester)3 and engraved in 1833 for England and Wales (Tate impression: T06102).4 Warrell describes a panoramic view in this sketchbook, across folios 87 verso and 88 recto (D17501 and D17502), as a study for the whole, composite scene and articulates that a sketch on folio 77 verso (D17484) provides ‘the details for the ship of the line which appears in the finished watercolour’.5 For a list of studies in which Turner describes Upnor Castle, see the entry for folio 87 verso (D17501).
With the page inverted according to the foliation of the sketchbook, Turner makes a second drawing on this sheet. A ship of the line is sketched using a soft pencil. The stern at left carries most detail, decorated with a lattice to indicate the windows of the gallery. One or more small craft seem to occupy the foreground.

Maud Whatley
January 2016

Finberg 1909, I, p.608.
Warrell 1991, p.48.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.399 no.847, reproduced.
Warrell 1991, p.48.

Read full Catalogue entry