Joseph Mallord William Turner

Lancaster Castle, Church and Town, from the North


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 173 × 260 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXLVIII 38 a

Catalogue entry

This is the left part of a double-page spread continued to the right on folio 9 recto (D11586; Turner Bequest CXLVIII 36a, now bound opposite), recording the view from the north bank of the River Lune, looking upstream with St George’s Quay on the opposite bank with the castle and church above right. In the middle distance, just left of centre is St John’s Church, built in 1754, with its tower added in 1784. The large pedimented building on the distant hillside to the left of centre is the Lancaster Asylum, as identified by Stephen Sartin of Lancaster Museum in correspondence with the present writer in 2009. This was designed by Thomas Standen; building work started in 1811, and was just being completed in 1816.1 Turner was sufficiently interested in the building to draw a detail above, presumably with the aid of a telescope, and it seems likely that he knew what it was. He would have been particularly interested provisions for mental care, since his mother had been confined to an asylum in the early years of the century. The present composition was first explored in a smaller sketch, taken from a viewpoint slightly further left, in the Yorkshire 2 sketchbook (Tate D11154; Turner Bequest CXLV 75a), in which Turner also sketched a detail of the distant house. The present writer has dated Turner’s sketches of Lancaster to Thursday 8 August 1816.
Finberg did not notice the association of this page with his folio 36a (D11586) as the latter was then ‘stuck down’, but this had been observed and the book rebound accordingly prior to the present writer’s 1984 publication.

David Hill
May 2009

The complex was recently (2009) converted to flats.

Read full Catalogue entry

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