Joseph Mallord William Turner

Berry Pomeroy Castle (‘Raglan Castle’)


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 205 × 290 mm
Bequeathed by Henry Vaughan 1900
Turner Bequest CXVIII E

Catalogue entry

Henry Vaughan by 1872 when lent to the Burlington Fine Arts Club exhibition
Etching and mezzotint by Henry Dawe (attributed) and Turner, untitled, published Turner, 1 January 1816
The untitled Liber Studiorum plate based on the present drawing was thought by early scholars to show the ruined Raglan Castle, between Abergavenny and Monmouth, South Wales; no Turner Bequest sketches of it are currently identified, but a drawing in the 1798 Dynevor Castle sketchbook (Tate D01580, D01581; Turner Bequest XL 69 a–70) records a skyline close to that in a nineteenth-century sketch inscribed ‘Ragland Castle’, by J. Martin of Canterbury (Tate, T08678). The crucial juxtaposition comprises the mullioned windows Turner recorded to the right of one of the towers, as in the present design; however, the two views have little else in common. In his early biography of Turner, Walter Thornbury had noted the published plate as ‘River with Woods. Goodrich.’1 Goodrich Castle is in Herefordshire, a few miles to the north-east of Raglan, and Turner had drawn it in the South Wales sketchbook (Tate D00610; Turner Bequest XXVI 56), but there is no obvious connection with the Liber design.
By 1872 an association with Berry Pomeroy was proposed,2 and in 1878 Rawlinson noted: ‘Neither the castle nor the surroundings are like Raglan. It has, however, marked resemblance to Berry Pomeroy Castle ... The moat is now filled up, but the miller hard by remembers when there was just such a moat as is drawn here.’3 In the Turner Bequest Inventory4 and his later Liber catalogue,5 Finberg was confident that the identification was confirmed by the place-name’s presence in Turner’s own lists (see below).
Berry Pomeroy Castle lies between Totnes and Paignton in south Devon; the gatehouse, with its massive flanking towers, dates from the late fifteenth century. A ruined range with mullioned windows lies to its right as viewed from outside the walls, though there is a gap, not evident in the Liber design. Indeed, after consultation with an archaeologist at Berry Pomeroy, Gillian Forrester concluded that the present title is ‘probably incorrect.’6 Turner first visited Devon in 1811. He had long been aware of Berry Pomeroy, including it in notes on West Country subjects on three occasions: in the Dynevor Castle sketchbook (Tate D41434; Turner Bequest XL, flyleaf), the Dolbadarn sketchbook (Tate D02174; Turner Bequest XLVI 119) and the Vale of Heathfield sketchbook (Tate D40864; Turner Bequest CXXXVII, inside front cover). There is a sequence of studies of the castle from the woods below in the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook (Tate D08628–D08630, D08636–D08638; Turner Bequest CXXIII 138, 138a, 139, 142, 142a, 143), which could have informed the design. Robert Upstone has noted a perhaps fortuitous similarity in setting and mood in an earlier watercolour study (Tate D08268; Turner Bequest CXXI L).7
Walter Thornbury, The Life of J.M.W. Turner, R.A. Founded on Letters and Papers Furnished by his Friends and Fellow-Academicians, London 1862 [1861], vol.II, p.365; see Forrester 1996, p.119.
[Taylor and Vaughan] 1872, p.40.
Rawlinson 1878, p.119.
Finberg 1909, I, p.322.
Finberg 1924, p.231.
Forrester 1996, pp.119, 120 note 4.
Upstone 1989, p.32.
Cook and Wedderburn VII 1903, pp.433, 434; see also unpublished variant transcribed in ibid., p.480.
Brooke 1885, p.199.
Forrester 1996, p.161 (transcribed).
Finberg 1910, p.82; reconsidered in Finberg 1924,–iii.
Rawlinson 1878, pp.116–25; 1906, pp.137–47; Finberg 1924, pp.225–44.
Ibid.: 1878, p.197; 1906, p.232; 1924, p.232.
Hardie 1938, pp.49–50 no.10.
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986 – 88, London 1996, p.71.
Ibid., p.71, reproduced.
Forrester 1996, pp.15, 24 note 82 (analysis by Peter Bower, acknowledged p.8); see also Bower, Tate conservation files.
Ibid., p.119 (analysis by Bower, as noted above); see also Bower, Tate conservation files.
Townsend 1996, I, p.378.
Joyce Townsend, circa 1995, Tate conservation files.
Wilkinson 1982, pp.23–4; see also Herrmann 1990, pp.62, 64.
Herrmann 1968, p.93 no.75, pl.XVI; see also Forrester 1996, pp.21, 120 and note 8..

Matthew Imms
August 2008

Forrester 1996, p.119.

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like

In the shop