Joseph Mallord William Turner

?Trematon Castle, Cornwall


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 313 x 505 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 134

Catalogue entry

This colour study has been tentatively related by Eric Shanes to the watercolour Trematon Castle, Cornwall of about 1828 (currently untraced),1 engraved in 1830 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04563, T04564).2 Turner visited Trematon Castle, above Forder Lake off the St Germans or Lynher River west of the River Tamar and Plymouth, in 1813, and drew it and its surroundings in the Plymouth, Hamoaze sketchbook (Tate D09255–D09263; Turner Bequest CXXXI 36–43). The serene finished composition is actually somewhat confused, in that it appears to conflate and adapt sketches made in opposite directions, with the left-hand side based on D09263 (CXXXI 43), looking north up Forder Lake to the castle, and the right taken from D09262 (CXXXI 42), looking south down the lake from below it.
If this is a study for Trematon Castle, the significant variations in its composition compared with the finished design may reflect Turner’s difficulties in recalling and ordering the topography of this relatively secluded spot. David Hill has noted the ‘tentative’ status of Shanes’s identification.3 Andrew Wilton had previously suggested the present work as a ‘colour beginning’ for Keswick Lake of about 1835 (British Museum, London),4 engraved in 1837 for England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04608, T06124),5 although any correlation with the Lake District scene appears even less direct. Shanes has also proposed Tate D36306 (Turner Bequest CCCLXV 16) as a Trematon colour study.
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.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.396 no.822.
Shanes 1997, pp.24, 42, 94, 105.
Hill 1997, p.7.
Wilton 1979, pp.401–2 no.871, reproduced.
Wilton 1983, p.269.
Technical notes:
Shanes describes in the ‘dappled’ textures at various points of the composition, achieved by the use of a sponge to dab away wet colour.1
See Shanes 1997, pp.24, 42.
Blank, save for inscriptions: in pencil ‘AP 150 P’ top left, upside down; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram above ‘CCLXIII – 134’ bottom right; and in pencil ‘CCLXIII 134’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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