Joseph Mallord William Turner

East Cowes Castle from the West, with Figures on the Steps below the Conservatory


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and pen and ink on paper
Support: 195 × 141 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXVII a 23

Catalogue entry

The setting is the foot of the steps below the smaller of East Cowes Castle’s two conservatories, with the end of its south-western façade at the top left. The octagonal white tower to its right was actually some way beyond across a lawn level with the top of the steps, with the larger conservatory running to the south-east beyond.
Ian Warrell has associated this drawing with 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. The present sketch is roughly comparable, with an elegant crowd below white towers, but in the upright painting they have ventured further into the woods and 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).
Blank; not seen (unavailable at time of writing).

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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