Joseph Mallord William Turner

East Cowes Castle from the North-East, at Sunset


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk and pen and ink on paper
Support: 136 × 194 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLX 12

Catalogue entry

This drawing may combine at least two aspects of East Cowes Castle. At the top left appears to be a view from ground level of the tower over the ‘octagon room’ with its staircase turret on its eastern face, partly obscured by the turret at the north corner of the lower square tower to its north-east, meaning Turner was looking to the south-west. Compare Tate D20831 and D24864 (Turner Bequest CCXXVII a 28, CCLX 28).
The castellated and silhouetted forms in the foreground do not seem to relate coherently to the rest, and may constitute an abandoned version of the views from the roof on other sheets (D24861–D24863; CCLX 25, 26, 27). The wooded landscape at the bottom right with the suggestion of a setting sun over water may have been added from the roof or another viewpoint looking north-west over the River Medina. Turner was possibly experimenting with multiple viewpoints, or simply reusing the space in one unfinished view to note aspects of another.
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”’.1 It is among dozens of blue paper studies made in and around East Cowes Castle, presumably during the same visit. For more on the various aspects of the house (demolished in about 1950), and its lost grounds as depicted by Turner, see the Introduction to this subsection.
There is a slighter drawing on the verso (D40083).
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 and Warrell 1999, pp.30, 253 note 84, linking this sheet to the Isle of Wight.
Technical notes:
There are signs of water damage where the ink has run in a regular area at the centre, apparently indicating that the sheet was mounted at the time of the 1928 flood at the Tate Gallery.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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