Joseph Mallord William Turner

Criccieth Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 305 × 486 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 171

Catalogue entry

This is one of four colour studies linked by Eric Shanes with varying degrees of certainty to the watercolour of about 1836 showing the castle at Criccieth, near Porthmadog, Gwynedd, on its headland looking overlooking Tremadog Bay to the south (British Museum, London),1 engraved as Crickieth [sic] Castle, North Wales in 1837 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04610, T06126). The others are Tate D25161, D25170 and D25174 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 39, 48, 52). Of three pencil sketches of Criccieth in the 1798 North Wales sketchbook (Tate D01378–D01380; Turner Bequest XXXIX 23, 24, 25), D01379 is closest to the finished watercolour, though with considerable differences.
The loosely worked design here, with dark and light shapes rising to the left and right of centre respectively above a level foreground, is comparable to the slightly more developed composition of Tate D25174, which appears to be the closest ‘colour beginning’ to the finished Criccieth watercolour. The significance of Turner’s inscription, traditionally read as ‘Hatfield’, is unclear; while there are some Hertfordshire subjects of the 1790s and 1800s, Hatfield, whether the town or its great Jacobean house, is not among them.
See also Tate D25176 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 54), which Finberg thought possibly showed Criccieth, but which may be of Conway Castle, the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.402 no.876, reproduced.
Blank (laid down and not examined).

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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