Joseph Mallord William Turner

Tintagel Castle from the Sea


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Gouache and watercolour on paper
Support: 181 × 230 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 347

Catalogue entry

This unusual study ‘tests out on blue paper a view of Tintagel that Turner developed on white paper around 1825, possibly in connection with the Ports scheme’, writes Eric Shanes.1 Turner here depicts a rugged promontory, perhaps Tintagel Head, on the North Cornwall coast. The erosion and weathering of the central downward sloping headland is evoked through free, vigorous strokes of the brush in wash layered with the more opaque and textural medium of gouache. The ruins of the medieval Tintagel Castle can be seen on the peninsula to the right, forming a peak and highlighted in a pale pink gouache. Below the seawaters churn, mirroring the agitated sky above. Short curving dashes of the brush have been employed to evoke the elemental energy; from the pure teal pigment applied dryly at the foot of the cliff to the flicks of white gouache suggesting the breaking waves.
Finberg writes that this drawing may have been a leaf of a sketchbook.2
For other drawings in which Tintagel features as subject see the Cornwall and Devon sketchbook of 1811 (Tate D41284, D41308–D41310, D41333–D41335, D41338, D41340, D41344, D41357, D41360; Turner Bequest CXXV a 9, 32–34, 53–55, 57, 59, 62, 75, 78).

Alice Rylance-Watson
March 2013

Shanes 1997, pp.28–9; for a reproduction of this 1825 watercolour of Tintagel Castle see Eric Shanes, Turner’s England 1810–38, London 1990, p.150, no.120 (colour).
Finberg 1909, II, p.841.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like

In the shop