Joseph Mallord William Turner

Harlech: The Castle from the Tremadoc Road


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 229 × 332 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest XXXVIII 42

Catalogue entry

This is one of a sequence of views at Harlech; see under folio 58 recto (D01292; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 40). The castle occupies a dominating position on a high cliff above the sea, which has receded significantly since the thirteenth century. It was constructed in the 1280s by James of St George, who was Constable here 1290–3. After the surrender of its Royalist garrison in 1647 during the Civil War, it ceased to play any military role. Turner’s oil painting of Harlech Castle, from Twgwyn Ferry, Summer’s Evening Twilight, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1799 (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven),1 shows the castle from much farther away, but when planning the work he perhaps referred to this drawing, along with the other studies of Harlech in this book.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.6–7 no. 9, pl.8 (colour).
Blank, a blue paint smear; inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Meyer Junr’ and ‘Cattle as for Picture’; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.
Turner’s note about cattle presumably refers to the slightly indicated cows in the middle distance on the recto. Mr Meyer, who appears to have ordered a watercolour of this subject, perhaps stipulated that he would like cattle included as Turner had noted them on the spot. The position of the note, close to the gutter, suggests that the page had already been taken out of the book when he made it. It would be interesting to know if ‘Mr Meyer’ was connected with the miniature painter Jeremiah Meyer (1735–1789), since other commissions noted in this book appear to be from another miniaturist, Alexander Pope (1763–1835); see folios 81, 96 (D01304, D01261; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 50a, 11a).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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