Joseph Mallord William Turner

East Cowes Castle from the West-South-West, with the Steps below the Conservatory


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk and pen and ink on paper
Support: 140 × 195 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXVII a 27

Catalogue entry

The arcade on the south-western side of the smaller of East Cowes Castle’s two conservatories is the main focus here. The octagonal white tower to its right was actually some way beyond and correspondingly taller, across a lawn to the east. The drawing has something of the air of a stage set awaiting its actors, and there are other studies from this side with groups of elegant figures which informed the painting Boccaccio Relating the Tale of the Birdcage, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1828 (Tate N00507);1 see under Tate D20844 (Turner Bequest CCXXVII a 41) for the subject and related sheets, although in the upright painting the people are further into the woods and only the towers of the house (or a loose approximation of it) is shown in the distance.
This is among dozens of blue paper studies made in and around East Cowes Castle, presumably in the course of a single 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.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.151–2 no.244, pl.245 (colour).

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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