Joseph Mallord William Turner

Weathercote Cave, near Ingleton, Full of Water


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 125 x 206 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXLVII 33 a

Catalogue entry

Weathercote Cave is about two and a half miles north-east of Ingleton, on the north side of the road near Chapel-Le-Dale. It was a tourist attraction in the eighteenth century, and became well-known through the publication of John Hutton’s Guide to the Caves in the Environs of Ingleborough ... in 1781. There is ready public access today, and no lighting or special equipment is needed, although care should be taken over stones and wet steps. Turner first visited Weathercote in 1808 and made a watercolour shortly thereafter of the view from the bottom (Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield).1
In 1816 Turner visited the cave again, towards the end of his itinerary. This sketch is inverted in relation to the main sequence of subjects in the sketchbook, having been made as he worked backwards through the nearly full book, filling in blank pages. The present writer has dated the sketches at Weathercote to 10 August 1816. That summer conditions were exceptionally wet, and as Turner noted, the cave was full of water and the normally dry stream-bed at the right was in full spate. He made one, rather animated, sketch from the lower part of the cave in the Yorkshire 2 sketchbook (Tate D11059–D11060; Turner Bequest CXLV 12a–13) before deciding to make a more considered study from higher ground. The sketch formed the basis of a studio watercolour Weathercote Cave when Half-Filled with Water (British Museum, London)2 engraved for Thomas Dunham Whitaker’s History of Richmondshire, part of the projected seven-volume General History of the County of York (see Introduction to the sketchbook), and published in 1822. A patch of blue pigment towards the left was possibly deposited on the page as Turner painted the finished watercolour.

David Hill
February 2009

Wilton 1979, no.670
Wilton 1979, p.366 no.580.

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