Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of Carlisle Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVI 38 a

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned to the right are four sketches of Carlisle Castle, the first in a series of studies of the castle and town (see folios 39 verso–45; D25838–D25849). These studies show the main structures of the castle around the gatehouse and keep. The most clearly recognisable view is the second sketch down which shows the gatehouse with the keep to its right; this was taken from the south of the castle complex. The tower between the gatehouse and keep no longer stands but must be Queen Mary’s Tower, where she was kept prisoner in 1568, which was knocked down in 1834–5 shortly after Turner saw it.1 This same tower appears in the sketches beneath and above which both show the keep and tower, but from different angles.
There is also a small and faint sketch between two of the castle studies which shows a view of a castle at a distance. This is related to the view on folio 39, which continues at the bottom of the page with the sketchbook in its usual orientation.
Finally there are a few very faint square shapes that overlap with the sketch towards the bottom of the page. These presumably relate to the battlements of Carlisle Castle.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847, quoted in Steve Bulman, ‘Carlisle Castle’, accessed 13 May 2009,

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