Joseph Mallord William Turner

Canterbury Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 98 × 76 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 3

Catalogue entry

With the page turned vertically, the view is north to the corner of the square, ruined keep of Canterbury’s Norman castle. The equivalent viewpoint today is Wincheap Roundabout, with Castle Street running to the north-east and the Rheims Way dual carriageway to the north-west; this corner of the structure is now obscured by a large tree. Compare the 1784 engraving by [?William] Ellis (Tate T06380).
Turner’s first drawings of Canterbury date from the early 1790s (see Andrew Wilton’s ‘London, Oxford and the Home Counties c.1791–3’ and ‘London and Home Counties 1793–5’ sections of this catalogue), and he made numerous finished watercolours of its medieval landmarks,1 although no sketches of the substantial but unmemorable castle survive from that time. A colour study of the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral in the South Wales sketchbook (Tate D00629; Turner Bequest XXVI 72) from the spring 1798 tour of Kent was apparently the last made in and around the city until those in the present book: see also folios 7 verso–8 recto, 8 verso (D35770–D35772), 19 verso, 20 verso, 26 verso (D35792, D35794, D35803; Turner Bequest CCCLXIII 18a, 19a, 25a) and possibly 11 verso–12 recto (D35778–D35779).

Matthew Imms
September 2016

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, pp.303–4 nos.31–34, pp.306–7 nos.53–56, most reproduced.

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