Joseph Mallord William Turner

Conwy: The Castle from the East


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 50 a

Catalogue entry

An oil painting1 and several watercolours (private collection;2 currently untraced;3 Getty Museum, San Francisco4) are based on this drawing.
This is one of two leaves removed and noted by Finberg.5 Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll refer to this page as ‘p. 50 verso’,6 misled by Finberg’s system of numbering which, while sometimes using the suffix ‘a’ to denote a verso, often indicates an inserted leaf thus. As they themselves point out, there is a ‘verso’ on which the commissions from Messrs Pope and Blake are noted. In fact, Turner made use of other drawings of Conwy in the process of designing his oil painting, including those on folios 82 recto and 83 recto (D01305, D01306; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 51, 52). See also the rectos of folios 80, 81, 84, 85 and 86 (D01303, D01304, D01336, D01307, D01308; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 50, 50a, 82, 53, 54).
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.107–8 no. 141, pl.146 (colour).
Wilton 1979, p.329 no.268.
Ibid., no.269.
Ibid., pp.329–30 no.270, reproduced.
Finberg 1909, I, p.86.
Butlin and Loll 1984, p.107.
Technical notes:
The sheet is discoloured from prolonged exposure while touring in the Third Loan Collection.
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Mr Leader | 4 F. 8 long | 3 F. 6 wide 70’ (all loosely crossed out), ‘Wm Blake’, and ‘Pope’, and in a later hand ‘No 24’; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.
‘Mr Leader’ is William Leader, an early patron of Turner’s. His son was J. Temple Leader of Putney Hill. At his sale at Christie’s, London, on 18 March 1843 included seven watercolours by Turner. William Blake of Newhouse was a pupil of Turner’s; see the verso of folio 76 (D01300; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 47). It is possible that he himself put his name on the sheet. ‘Pope’ refers to Alexander Pope (1763–1835), a miniature painter, who also commissioned views of Ludlow and Llyn Cwellyn; see folios 66 and 96 (D01351, D01261; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 97, 11a).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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