Joseph Mallord William Turner

The West and North Fronts of Middleham Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 97 × 154 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXLIV 52 a

Catalogue entry

The top and bottom drawings here record, respectively, the west and north fronts of Middleham Castle. Both drawings are more than a little impressionistic with regard to architectural form. This is true of small details such as window openings and doors but also of towers and indeed the whole proportion of the building. The right tower on the north front is not round as Turner seems to suggest, but more surprisingly the proportions of the towers and the whole elevation are completely mistaken. These inaccuracies are so glaring as to require some explanation. It is possible that Turner could not get a clear view of either aspect, since the castle is hemmed in on these sides by dwelling houses, and was forced to make up the form from intermittent glimpses.
For Middleham in this sketchbook see folio 47 verso (D10954).

David Hill
January 2009

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