Joseph Mallord William Turner

Helmsley Castle: The West Tower from the South, Seen through Trees


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 256 × 161 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest LXXXII 3

Catalogue entry

The West Tower of Helmsley Castle is the most substantial of the remains of the castle built on twelfth–century foundations by William de Ros in the late thirteenth century; the other extant structures are the remains of a sixteenth–century manor house built by Edward Manners, 3rd Earl of Rutland. The castle was slighted by Parliamentary forces under Sir Thomas Fairfax after it was surrendered to them in 1644 during the Civil War. From 1632 the manor house belonged to George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, whose son inherited it and in 1657 married Fairfax’s daughter Mary. A later owner, Thomas Duncombe, abandoned the castle for a new house close by, Duncombe Park, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh. Duncombe Park and its neighbourhood were to be the subject of a number of watercolour studies made by John Sell Cotman (1782–1842) around 1806.
The drawings as far as folio 13 recto (D05088) appear to show Helmsley. A very similar view, which appears to be a copy of this drawing by another hand, is in the 1801 Helmsley sketchbook (Tate D02466; Turner Bequest LIII 3a).

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

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