Joseph Mallord William Turner

Two Views of Crichton Castle


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 90 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXVI 56

Catalogue entry

With the book turned to the left, Turner has made two view of Crichton Castle from the south-south-west across the valley of the Tyne Water. Finberg has noted, presumably with particular reference to the lower drawing, ‘See Engraving in Part II. of Scott’s “Provincial Antiquities.”’,1 and indeed, this sketch does provide the composition for Turner’s watercolour design of Crichton Castle, circa 1818 (The Morgan Library and Museum, New York),2 which alters only in a slight increase in verticality, increasing the drama and grandeur of the scene, and with the addition of a few figures and cows in the foreground and staffage in the middle distance. The sketch, nevertheless, is slight, and Turner must have referred to the closer view of the castle on folio 55 verso (D13558) for architectural information.
The sketch at the top of the page is similar in composition though it is perhaps made from a slightly higher vantage point. The castle and stable block are seen from the same position, but Turner has included more of the landscape to the left (west), and less at the right (east).
In designing his watercolour, Turner mapped out his composition in the Scotch Antiquities sketchbook (Tate D13722; Turner Bequest CLXVII 75) before making two colour studies, one in the Scotland and London sketchbook (Tate D13818; Turner Bequest CLXX 4) and another, Crichton Castle, With Rainbow, now on a loose sheet (watercolour, circa 1818, Yale Center for British Art).3 While the Provincial Antiquities design differs in its palette and in the depiction of light and the weather to these studies, both contributed towards Turner’s development of the subject and influenced the appearance of the final design.
There are more sketches of Crichton Castle in the Scotch Antiquities sketchbook (Tate D13728–D13734; Turner Bequest CLXVII 78–81).
Finberg 1909, I, p.483, CLXVI 56.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.425 no.1059.
Ibid., p.425 no.1143.

Thomas Ardill
January 2008

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