Joseph Mallord William Turner

Hermitage Castle, Lidderdale

1831

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 114 × 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25890
Turner Bequest CCLXVI 65 a

Catalogue entry

The third of Turner’s close-up architectural studies of Hermitage Castle shows the north and west sides of the castle. Together with the two sketches of the castle from the north-east and south-east on folios 64 verso (D25888), these three studies reveal the structure and appearance of the castle from each side. Although his drawing is economical in detail, the artist included every window and door, carefully demonstrating the damage at the north-east corner and suggesting the pattern of the stonework by drawing the blocks and each corner. The inscription ‘14’ above the north-west corner indicates the number of corbels along the parapet of the corner tower.1
Two further sketches provide additional architectural information. At the top left is a sketch of the arch and the west wall of the castle, drawn straight on in order to clarify this detail that is shown at an oblique angle in the main sketch. At the top right of the page is a detail of part of one of the corner towers, perhaps at the north-east, revealing a hole of missing stonework that is not revealed in other sketches.
There are sketches of the castle on folios 63 verso–67 and 68 verso (D25886–D25893, D25896), the last of which formed the basis of Turner’s vignette design for volume 3 of Sir Walter Scott’s Poetical Works: Hermitage Castle circa 1832 (watercolour, private collection).2

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

1
A feature he noted in a sketch of Borthwick Castle in 1818, Tate D13724 (Turner Bequest CLXVII 76).
2
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.428 no.1077.

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