Joseph Mallord William Turner

Barnard Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 74 × 94 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIV 55 a

Catalogue entry

Standing on the shingle banks of the west side of the Tees just north of Barnard Castle (like the figures at the bottom left of the sketch), this view, made with the sketchbook inverted, shows the castle and bridge that connects it to the western side of the town (also sketched on folio 55; D25627). The figures at the bottom left are probably fishing or washing clothes in the river. One, according to Turner’s inscription, is a ‘girl’, who is depicted ‘look[ing]’ towards the bridge. The view is very similar to Turner’s watercolour, Barnard Castle 1825 (Yale Center for British Art, USA),1 prepared for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales, which also includes figures in the foreground fishing.
Turner visited Barnard Castle in 1831 along with the nearby Bowes Castle, Egglestone Abbey, Mortham Tower and Rokeby Park to collect views to illustrate the Rokeby volume (vol.9) of Sir Walter Scott’s Poetical Works. Although Scott had been keen on Barnard Castle for the illustration, he finally agreed with his publisher Robert Cadell that the volume should be represented by Bowes Tower and a view of the Junction of the Greta and the Tees rivers which included Mortham Tower.2 This agreement, however, was not made until 6 August 1831 after Turner had sketched all of these sites, presumably not yet certain which would be chosen for illustration.
The sketch continues slightly onto folio 56 (D25629). There an inscription at the top of written in brown ink, ‘NM’.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.392 no.793.
Gerald Finley, Landscapes of Memory: Turner as Illustrator to Scott, London 1980, p.242.

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