Joseph Mallord William Turner

Bamburgh Castle, The Farne Islands, Holy Island and St Abbs Head


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 187 × 114 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CC 82

Catalogue entry

This page contains sketches of castles on the Northumberland coast just south of Berwick-upon-Tweed. With the sketchbook turned to the left at the top of the page and again in the middle of the page are sketches of Bamburgh Castle as seen from the sea to the east. In 1797 he had sketched the castle from the beach to the south (Tate D00955, D00956; Turner Bequest XXXIV 47, 48) and from the north (Tate D00957; Turner Bequest XXXIV 49).
Turner made these sketches standing on the deck of a boat travelling south from Edinburgh (see folio 78 verso; D17645) and as it traversed the passage called the Inner Sound he passed Bamburgh on his left (west) and the Farne Islands on his right (east). The two small sketches between the two drawings of Bamburgh are thus the island known as Inner Farne with a lighthouse (built in 1811) at its south-west corner. There are two further sketches of Bamburgh in the centre of the page with a sailing vessel passing by in our direction. The smaller, thumbnail version may have been made second, as an alternative composition.
Towards the bottom of the page is another Northumberland castle, Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island. Turner had drawn this castle on his journey north to Edinburgh (folio 4 verso; D17515), and now, on his return, he took the opportunity to make one more view from the east. At the bottom of the page is a light sketch of St Abbs Head from the west, similar to the sketch on folio 81 verso (D17651).
There are four sketches of Bamburgh and the Farne Islands on folios 82 verso and 86, and of Bamburgh on folio 87.

Thomas Ardill
August 2008

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