Joseph Mallord William Turner

Cilgerran Castle on the Teifi, Looking Upstream


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 229 × 332 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXVIII 88

Catalogue entry

The imposing ruins of the thirteenth-century castle stand on cliffs on the right bank of the River Teifi, opposite the small town of Cilgerran in Cardiganshire (now Dyfed). This view looking downstream emphasises the grandeur of the setting and the deep shadows that gather in the gorge. Finberg records that this sheet was stuck down on board, on the back of which was inscribed (in Turner’s hand?) ‘Mr Fidler 2 feet by 17 | 26 | Mr Woodhouse 14½ x 10½’ (compare the verso of folio 40; D01354; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 100); and by Ruskin ‘“Kilgarren Castle on the Tivy”. Turner’s title, J.R.’1
The drawing was used as the basis for the oil painting Kilgarran Castle on the Twyvey, Hazy Sunrise, previous to a Sultry Day, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1799 (National Trust),2 and the watercolour Kilgarren Castle (Manchester Art Gallery).3 Other views of Cilgerran are on the rectos of folios 38–41 (D01279, D01280, D01354, D01281; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 28, 28a, 100, 29). Together, they supplied Turner with the information he needed to create his highly imaginative watercolour reinterpretation of the subject, Kilgarren Castle, Pembroke, for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales design of about 1828 (private collection),4 engraved in 1829 (Tate impression: T04540). A smaller work in oil on canvas, in the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester,5 records a view different from any of those in this book.
The subject became popular in the years around the turn of the century, and it is possible that Turner’s Royal Academy exhibit prompted interest among artists who did not generally travel as far west in South Wales as this. One example of such a work is the view of Cilgerran catalogued (with reservations) as by Turner by Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll (private collection),6 which is not by him; it may be by William Havell (1782–1857).
Finberg 1909, I, p.88.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.8–9 no. 11, pl.9 (colour).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.326 no.243, pl.44.
Ibid., p.394 no.806, reproduced.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.29–30 no.37, pl.33.
Ibid., p.29 no.36, pl.32.
Blank; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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