Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tamworth Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 348 × 483 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 184

Catalogue entry

This colour study has been identified by both Andrew Wilton and Eric Shanes1 as relating to the watercolour Tamworth Castle, Staffordshire of about 1830 (private collection),2 engraved in 1832 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impression: T04598). The composition is taken from a pencil drawing in the 1830 Kenilworth sketchbook (Tate D22072; Turner Bequest CCXXXVIII 51c), showing the castle and St Editha’s Church from the south, across the confluence of the Rivers Tame and Anker, with the Lady Bridge on the left.
Shanes described this study as among those ‘created simply to make a scene leap imaginatively and colourfully from a sketchbook page’.3 Gerald Wilkinson declared it: ‘Exactly like part of the Durham Cathedral composition for England and Wales. ... The castle-and-bridge arrangement became almost a cliché in the Meuse and Moselle drawings’.4 A more diffuse but still recognisable variant colour study for the present composition is Tate D25268 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 146), while Tate D25183 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 61) is a ‘colour beginning’ showing Tamworth in the distance to the north along the Tame. Finberg5 suggested Tate D25194 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 72) as a Tamworth study, but it may represent Whitby.
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.
Wilton 1979, p.399 under no.844; Shanes 1979, p.156; see also Shanes 1997, pp.27, 70, 96, 105.
Wilton 1979, p.399 no.844, reproduced.
Shanes 1997, p.27.
Wilkinson 1975, p.107.
Finberg 1909, II, p.819.
Blank, save for inscriptions at bottom right: in pencil ‘AB 94 P’; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram above ‘CCLXIII – 184’; and in pencil ‘CCLXIII | 184’ and ‘D25306’.
The ‘AB’ number corresponds with the endorsement on one of the parcels of works sorted by John Ruskin during his survey of the Turner Bequest, in this case classified by him as ‘Colour effects. Finer’.1

Matthew Imms
March 2013

Transcribed ibid., II, p.814.

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