Joseph Mallord William Turner

Middleham Castle and Church from the North-West


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 125 × 200 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXLVI 22 a

Catalogue entry

This is the left half of a double-page spread continued to the right on folio 23 recto (D11404), opposite, recording the castle and town of Middleham from a viewpoint on the right bank of the River Ure to the north-west near Middleham Bridge. See the Yorkshire 1 sketchbook (Tate D10958–D10959, D10962–D10963; Turner Bequest CXLIV 49a–50, 51a–52) for similar views drawn on the same occasion. Turner’s friend Thomas Girtin sketched a similar subject about 1800 in the Shepherd sketchbook (Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester).
Middleham stands on high ground overlooking the junction of the Rivers Cover and Ure, and guards the entrance to both valleys from the Plain of York. Its strategic potential made it the historic capital of mid- Wensleydale, and the site of a large medieval castle. The keep was begun around 1170, and by the fifteenth century it had become the home of some of the most powerful lords in Britain, and served as the childhood home of Richard III. This the first of a series of four panoramic sketches of Middleham in the present sketchbook plus a series of more detailed studies in the Yorkshire 1 sketchbook extending, with one or two interruptions, from Tate D10954–D10955 to D10978–D10979; Turner Bequest CXLVI 47a–48 to 59a–60. Of all the sites visited on this tour, Middleham elicited the greatest number of sketches from Turner.

David Hill
January 2009

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