Joseph Mallord William Turner

East Cowes Castle: The Drawing Room, with Figures


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 137 × 195 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXLIV 32

Catalogue entry

This 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. The present colour study was traditionally associated with Turner’s 1827 stay at Petworth in Sussex, after his Isle of Wight visit, where he produced a series similar in technique,1 addressed elsewhere in this catalogue.
There are a few drawings now identified as East Cowes interiors with figures, in this instance all apparently women (see also Tate D20851, D20852, D22690, D22705, D22761; CCXXVII a 48, 49, CCXLIV 28, 43, 99). Patrick Youngblood rejected the Petworth connection and identified this one as showing the drawing room at East Cowes Castle, looking south-west towards the smaller of the house’s two conservatories;2 the unusual apsidal form of the end of the room is shown, with its curved corners flanking the doorway, apparently flanked by its fireplace on the left and its deep bay window on the right.3
Youngblood was also the first to identify a painting of about 1835 now known as Music Party, East Cowes Castle (Tate N03550)4 as showing the adjacent ‘octagon room’, rather than a Petworth interior as traditionally thought; there are no identified drawings of that room, and the painting may have been prompted by a visit a few years later, as noted in the overall Introduction to this tour. The setting of a somewhat mysterious, unresolved painting of the 1830s, formerly linked to Petworth but presently called Interior of a Great House: The Drawing Room, East Cowes Castle (Tate N01988),5 has been compared by Ian Warrell to the unusual architectural forms recorded here and in a slighter pencil variation, D22761.6
See Finberg 1909, II, pp.744–6, CCXLIV 1–116, ‘Petworth Water Colours’, c.1830.
See Youngblood 1983, p.616; see also Warrell 1989, p.148, and Warrell 2007, p.327.
See the photograph of the opposite end of the room in about 1880, Youngblood 1983, fig.56 and Warrell 2007, p.327 fig.2.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.281–2 no.447, pl.448 (colour).
Ibid., pp.282–3 no.449, pl.450 (colour).
See Warrell 2007, pp.327, 328 note 17, and Warrell 2015, pp.173, 175.
Blank (not available for inspection at time of writing).

Matthew Imms
November 2015

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