Joseph Mallord William Turner

Caernarvon Castle from the East


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 220 × 282 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XLIV Y

Display caption

This watercolour originated in the sketching tour of Wales Turner made in 1798. Such tours were an important source of new subjects for the artist. Having gathered the raw materials for new compositions, he would try to persuade patrons to commission fully developed watercolours.

Turner may have made this design in preparation for a large watercolour of Caernarfon Castle that he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1799.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

This study is perhaps related to the finished watercolour exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1799 (private collection).1 The likely prime source for that work is in the 1798 Hereford Court sketchbook (Tate D01348; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 94). Turner may have had in mind one of the views of Caernarvon by Richard Wilson (1713–1782).2 See also the pencil studies of Caernarvon on card (Tate D01884, D01885; Turner Bequest XLIV H, I).
There are related studies on the verso (D40058).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.328 no.254, pl.47 (colour).
See W.G. Constable, Richard Wilson, London and Cambridge, Mass. 1953, p. 173
Technical notes:
There are red and blue colour trials at the top right; regular creases indicate that the sheet was once folded several times.

Andrew Wilton
March 2013

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