Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Castle on a Wooded Slope, Possibly Durham

c.1828–38

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Watercolour on paper
Dimensions
Support: 373 × 554 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25251
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 129

Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes has suggested this may be a colour study relating to the series of Turner’s watercolours engraved as Picturesque View in England and Wales (published 1827–38), acknowledging but not following Finberg’s tentative identification of the subject as Durham Castle.1 However, the composition shows enough similarities to Turner’s views of that building from the north in the 1797 Tweed and Lakes sketchbook (Tate D01014; Turner Bequest XXXV 11) and the 1817 Durham, North Shore sketchbook (Tate D12325; Turner Bequest CLVII 6) to make Finberg’s idea feasible. If Durham Castle is indeed the subject, it was abandoned in favour of a wider watercolour view including it and the neighbouring Durham Cathedral of about 1835 (Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh),2 engraved for England and Wales in 1836.
The broad range date given here to the present sheet reflects its 1828 watermark and the end of the England and Wales project in 1838 as noted above. See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified but unrealised subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which it has been assigned.
Although listed by Finberg as the recto, this side is currently mounted as the verso. There is an unrelated colour study on the other side (D40192).
1
Shanes 1997, p.96.
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.402 no.873, reproduced.
Technical notes:
The top of the sheet has been neatly trimmed, but apparently by sight alone, as it dips towards the left in a gradual curve, leaving the left-hand edge some 20 mm shorter than the right.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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