Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Laugharne Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 307 × 489 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 175

Catalogue entry

This elemental colour study, comprising rapid, vigorous grey washes, has been compared by Eric Shanes with the watercolour Laugharne Castle of about 1831 (Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio),1 engraved in 1833 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales as Langharne [sic], or Talacharne Castle, Caermarthenshire (Tate impressions: T06103, T06104).2 The composition is based on a pencil sketch of the castle seen from the south-west above the Taf Estuary in the 1795 South Wales sketchbook (Tate D00572; Turner Bequest XXVI 19).
Shanes notes that the England and Wales watercolour is ‘dismally faded, and the study can give us a strong idea of the sublime gloom’ of its original state.3 The identification of the present study, so loosely worked as it is, perhaps remains conjectural, but its fundamentals of a bright vertical form on the left flanked by cliff-like elements above breaking waves is directly comparable to the juxtaposition of the nearest tower and receding walls of the castle above the water in the finished design. Shanes has less convincingly proposed another ‘colour beginning’ (Tate D25318; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 196) as a variant study of Laugharne.4
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.399 no.848, reproduced.
Shanes 1997, pp.27, 96, 105.
Ibid., p.27.
Ibid., p.96
Blank (laid down and not examined).

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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