Joseph Mallord William Turner

Raby Castle and Park from the North


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 232 × 328 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLVI 24

Catalogue entry

The composition continues on folio 21 recto opposite (D12300; CLVI 23a). The overall view is similar to that on folios 19 recto, 18 recto and 17 verso (D12278, D12296, D12297; CLVI 11a, 21a–22). Here the castle is seen contre-jour to the south, in an effect replicated in his painting Raby Castle, the Seat of the Earl of Darlington, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1818 (Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore),1 although the overall composition was taken from folios 18 recto–17 verso,2 where the viewpoint is a little higher and to the east.
The outlines of Bulmer’s Tower, the chimney of the Kitchen Tower and Clifford’s Tower run from the left, with the twin turrets of the gatehouse to the north-east just visible below to the right. The viewpoint is below that of the three-part panorama, with the lower storeys lost behind the trees. Stables and other outbuildings are screened by the trees on the right, where a blue squiggle probably indicates smoke. The road running known to the castle gate turns and continues east to the North Lodge gatehouses, visible in the other half of the drawing.
As now bound and foliated, sketches of the castle and its surroundings fill most of the second half of the sketchbook, from folio 17 recto (D12298; CLVI 22a) to folio 32 recto (D12309; CLVI 28).
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.101–2 no.136, pl.142 (colour).
As noted in Butlin and Joll 1984, p.101.
Technical notes:
This may be a rare instance of Turner applying colour while actually sketching (or possibly later, guided by his tonal pencil hatching). The colours across a band in the middle distance are soft tones of grey, grey-green, yellow or ochre, red and blue, with the grey confined to flat washes within the silhouette of the castle, and the colours applied sparingly in disjointed dabs across the foliage. The point inscribed ‘R’ has been coloured red, and there may be one or two other inscriptions too delicate to be sure of, similar to the tiny words and letters which annotate the three-part panorama in pencil alone mentioned above.
John Gage has seen the sketch as an early use by Turner of ‘prismatic’ colour, with ‘small flecks of red, blue and yellow only’,1 in his development of a sort of conceptual, proto-‘pointillism’,2 although Andrew Wilton has noted that the red and yellow can be explained by Turner’s sketching at Raby in October, when the colours of the autumn leaves would have been at their most intense.3 The foliage in the 1818 painting is fairly muted, and keyed to the silvery light of the sun breaking through cloud.

Matthew Imms
February 2010

Gage 1969, pp.40, 232 note 111.
Ibid., pp.111, 250 note 189.
Andrew Wilton in Gage, Ziff, Alfrey and others 1983, p.209 (paraphrased here from the French); for further comment see Wilton 1979, p.172 note 28; see also Perkins 1990, p.44.

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