Joseph Mallord William Turner

East Cowes Castle: The Battlements, with Cowes and the Mouth of the River Medina to the North-West


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and pen and ink on paper
Support: 138 × 195 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLX 25

Catalogue entry

The most unusual of Turner’s East Cowes Castle views are perhaps three from the castellated roof, looking west over the River Medina to Cowes (see also Tate D24862 and D24863; Turner Bequest CCLX 26, 27). They are complemented by a pencil sketch in the contemporary Isle of Wight sketchbook (Tate D20757; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 16a). Quite which part of the picturesquely turreted roofscape Turner used for his viewpoint is now uncertain, as there were various ways up,1 but he appears to have been at somewhere near the centre of the main block, with the vertical features possibly being the small turrets flanking the bay window on the north-west front above the dining room (as shown for example in D20842; CCXXVII a 39).
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 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.
See ‘Ground-floor plan of East Cowes Castle’ in Michael Mansbridge, John Nash: A Complete Catalogue, Oxford 1991, p.86.
See Finberg 1909, II, pp.806–13, CCLX, ‘Pencil and ink on blue paper: mostly connected with “French Rivers” series’, c.1830; but see Warrell 1989, p.148 and Warrell 1999, pp.30, 253 note 84, linking this work to the Isle of Wight.
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘D.24861’ bottom left and ‘cclx.25’ bottom right. There is white paper or tape adhering around the edges, extending irregularly beyond the edges and visible from the recto, dating from the lengthy period when the sheet was mounted and displayed.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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