Joseph Mallord William Turner

Valle Crucis Abbey, with Dinas Brân Beyond


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 229 x 332 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXVIII 55

Catalogue entry

The ruins of the thirteenth-century Cistercian foundation of Valle Crucis stand on the banks of the Afon Eglwyseg, a tributary of the Dee just west of Llangollen. They had become popular in the later eighteenth century with travellers in search of picturesque sites in North Wales, and Turner had already visited them in 1794 in the course of his Midland tour; that visit had resulted in an impressive finished watercolour, which remained in his studio (Tate D00703; Turner Bequest XXVIII R).
This drawing is a more general view than the one he made then, and he used it as the basis for a design for the Picturesque Beauties of England and Wales, engraved 1828 (Tate impressions: T04527, T06078); the finished watercolour is in Manchester Art Gallery.1 Eric Shanes points to another drawing, in the Tabley No.1 sketchbook of 1808 (Tate D06842; Turner Bequest CIII 13), as the basis for this,2 but although it shows a similar view the present drawing is almost certainly Turner’s main source. There are further drawings showing the ancient Welsh fortress-palace of Dinas Brân on the rectos of folios 88–93 (D01310, D01311, D01350, D01312–D01314; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 56, 57, 96, 58, 59, 60).
Wilton 1979, p.393 no.799, reproduced.
Eric Shanes, Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales 1825–1838, London 1979, p.27.
Blank; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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