Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Harlech Castle, North Wales


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Chalk and watercolour on paper
Support: 382 × 536 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 118

Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes has compared this colour study with the watercolour Harlech Castle of about 1834–5 (private collection),1 engraved in 1836 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04606, T06120).2 The original source of the design is probably a partly coloured pencil view to the north in the 1798 Hereford Court sketchbook (Tate D01259; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 42), one of several made on that occasion. There is an earlier ‘Monro School’-style wash drawing of a similar aspect (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin).
Here, in what Shanes describes as ‘a search for the most expressive and visually dynamic viewpoint’,3 the castle is not immediately obvious. The basic elements of a silhouetted form in the middle, seen against the horizon from a valley in the foreground, are comparable, although the tentative outlines of architecture above the central mass do not immediately suggest Harlech Castle, and the similarity of the basic composition may be fortuitous.
Shanes has also suggested Tate D25128, D25232 and D25289 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 6, 110, 167) as related studies. Tate D25146 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 24), a study of distant mountains, is possibly another study for the subject. See also the introductions to the present subsection of identified subjects and the overall England and Wales ‘colour beginnings’ grouping to which this work has been assigned.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.401 no.867.
Shanes 1997, pp.96, 98, 105.
Shanes 1997, p.18.
Technical notes:
The sheet is rather rubbed and creased towards the bottom edge. There is a prominent fingerprint in the watercolour towards the bottom centre.
Laid down on modern backing sheet and not examined.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

Read full Catalogue entry


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