Joseph Mallord William Turner

Bodiam Castle from the River Rother


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 181 × 228 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXXXVII 6 a

Catalogue entry

Drawn with the sketchbook inverted.
Bodiam Castle dates from 1385; it is extensively restored and is now the property of the National Trust. Continued very slightly on folio 8 D10215; Turner Bequest CXXXVII 7), the drawing served as the basis of Turner’s watercolour Bodiham Castle, Sussex made about 1816 for John Fuller (private collection)1 and subsequently engraved by William Bernard Cooke for the Fuller-financed Views in Sussex (see Introduction to the sketchbook). The view is from Bodiam Bridge across the Rother. On the left is the Red Lion inn and in the right distance, to the north-east, is the castle. In this drawing it appears only as a faint outline while in the watercolour it swims in hazy summer sunshine.
Turner made a circuit of the castle moat, drawing the ruins from different angles. Drawings in this sketchbook include a closer view on folio 8 verso (D10216; Turner Bequest CXXXVII 7a) and there are more in the Herstmonceux and Pevensey sketchbook (for example Tate D05684; Turner Bequest XCI 67), perhaps made on an earlier visit. The castle is about six miles from Fuller’s estate, Rosehill Park, and was of special interest to Fuller who bought it in ruinous condition in 1829, to save it from demolition, and undertook a partial restoration.

David Blayney Brown
March 2011

Wilton 1979, p.348 no.428.

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