Joseph Mallord William Turner

Powis Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 350 × 510 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 59

Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes has identified this colour study as relating to the watercolour Powis Castle, Montgomery of about 1834 (Manchester Art Gallery),1 engraved in 1836 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T05098, T06116).2 The castle, situated on a ridge near Welshpool, is seen from the south in two 1798 drawings in the Hereford Court sketchbook (Tate D01315, D01316; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 61, 62), the first of which shows in detail the terraced gardens south-east of the castle, indicated summarily in the present work by four parallel horizontal strokes across the distant mound on the left.3
The lack of differentiation between the castle and its setting led earlier commentators to speculate that the feature was a mountain, perhaps in Italy (which Turner first visited in 1819), given the brilliant, clear light and the sense of a classical composition with the ‘mountain’ balanced by the dark trees on the right in the manner of Claude Lorrain (1604/5–1682), whom Turner so admired and so often emulated.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.400 no.861, reproduced.
Shanes 1997, pp.46, 95, 104.
See ibid., pp.21, 46.
See Butlin 1975, p.48, and Wilton 1975, p.66; and in general Ian Warrell and others, Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery, London 2012.
Blank (on display and not examined).

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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