Joseph Mallord William Turner

Cockermouth Castle

exhibited 1810

Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 605 × 900 mm
frame: 902 × 1209 × 155 mm
Accepted by HM Government in lieu of tax and allocated to the Tate Gallery 1984. In situ at Petworth House

Catalogue entry

108. [T03879] Cockermouth Castle Exh. 1810

Canvas, 23 3/4 × 35 1/2 (60·3×90·2)

Coll. Painted for the third Earl of Egremont; by descent to the third Lord Leconfield who in 1947 conveyed Petworth to the National Trust; in 1957 the contents of the State Rooms were accepted by the Treasury in part payment of death duties.

Exh. Turner's gallery 1810 (13); S.B.A. 1834 (122); Tate Gallery 1951 (15).

Lit. Petworth Inventories 1837, 1856 (London House); Waagen 1854, iii, p. 38; Armstrong 1902, p. 220, repr. p. v; Collins Baker 1920, p. 126 no. 653; Hussey 1925, p. 975 repr.; H. F. Finberg 1951, p. 386; Finberg 1961, pp. 159, 167, 171, 350, 472 no. 153, 449 no. 457; Joll 1977, pp. 375, 376, pl. 1; Gage 1980, p. 250.

The success of Turner's two views of Tabley (see Nos. 98 and 99 [T03878]), painted for Sir John Leicester and shown at the R.A. in 1809, brought him further orders of this sort from Lord Egremont and Lord Lonsdale. These involved Turner in journeys in the summer of 1809 to gather material for these commissions. This material can be seen in the ‘Petworth’ (CIX) and ‘Cockermouth’ (CX) sketchbooks. In the former are a group of drawings of Cockermouth Castle; p. 24 shows a careful study for the oil and is much closer to the composition of the picture than the drawing on p. 14 which Finberg identifies as the sketch for it. There is also a related drawing on p. 16 of the ‘Cockermouth’ sketchbook among other views of the castle (in particular those on pp. 17 and 21). These drawings are much slighter and more rapidly executed than the detailed studies in the ‘Petworth’ sketchbook.

Cockermouth Castle was originally in the possession of the Earls of Northumberland and passed in 1750 with the Egremont title and Petworth to Sir Charles Wyndham (d. 1763), nephew of the seventh Duke of Somerset and the father of Turner's patron.

In the ‘Hastings’ sketchbook (CXI), pp. 57–9 contain details of Turner's accounts, which include a note of payment from Lord Egremont on 15 June 1810. This probably refers to the Petworth from the Lake (No. 113 [T03880]) and to this picture. Finberg gives the price of the former as 200 guineas and of this picture as 100 guineas.

It is interesting to note that although both pictures depict houses belonging to Lord Egremont and were painted in the same year, they were obviously not conceived as pendants as in the case of the two views of Lowther Castle (Nos. 111 and 112) or the two pictures of Tabley already mentioned. As this picture is the same size as The Thames at Eton (No. 71[T03873]), acquired by Lord Egremont in 1808, it seems likely that it was painted to these dimensions in order to hang as a pendant to the Eton.

Published in:
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984

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