Joseph Mallord William Turner

East Cowes Castle across the River Medina, from Cowes


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache, pen and ink, graphite and watercolour on paper
Support: 140 × 191 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLX 32

Technique and condition

Brown pen and ink drawing with black ink wash and white chalk highlights on a medium weight, wove, blue, rag paper support. In general the support is in moderate condition, however in the left half of the image there is bleeding of the black ink caused by flood damage. There is some yellow discolouration in the central area.

The image is of a marine scene with a rowing boat and three figures in the foreground, and boats in the middle distance, with a backdrop of buildings and trees, with a castle on the horizon. Fine pen and ink lines describe the boats, figures and background. Broader black ink brush washes have been used to block in colour on the two boats on the left, and to re-inforce some of the lines in the foreground. A powdery white pigment that appears to be chalk has been applied lightly to indicate lighter areas. There are small amounts of graphite under-drawing.

Katharine Lockett
August 2003

Catalogue entry

This is among dozens of blue paper studies presumably made in connection with the Cowes Regatta events in the late summer of 1827; see the Introduction to this subsection for others possibly featuring East Cowes Castle, seen here on the skyline to the south-east above the River Medina, as it does in the background of the painting East Cowes Castle, the Seat of J. Nash, Esq.; the Regatta Starting for their Moorings, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1828 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London).1
Although exhibited in the nineteenth century as an English subject, like several others in the present subsection this drawing was categorised in Finberg’s 1909 Inventory in one of the sections of works on blue paper ‘mostly connected with “French Rivers”’.2
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.150–1 no.243, pl.247 (colour).
See Finberg 1909, II, pp.806–13, CCLX, ‘Pencil and ink on blue paper: mostly connected with “French Rivers” series’, c.1830; but see Butlin, Wilton and Gage 1974, p.102, Warrell 1989, p.148, Warrell 1991, p.65 and Warrell 1999, pp.30, 253 note 84, linking this sheet to the Isle of Wight.
Technical notes:
As distinct from the diluted tonal wash Turner used in the foreground, on the hulls and sails and on the distant hillside, there are signs of water damage on the left where the ink has spread and run within a regular area at the centre, apparently indicating that the edges of the sheet were protected by a mount at the time of the 1928 flood at the Tate Gallery.
Blank; inscribed in red ink ?by John Ruskin ‘[?Fr] 532’ bottom left; inscribed in pencil ‘44b’ right of centre and ‘cclx.32’ bottom right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLX – 32’ right of centre.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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