Joseph Mallord William Turner

Windsor Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 355 × 519 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 34

Catalogue entry

Eric Shanes has followed Finberg in identifying this colour study as relating to the watercolour Windsor Castle of about 1828 (British Museum, London),1 engraved in 1831 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T05086, T06093).2 The royal residence of Windsor Castle and its setting by the River Thames had long been a fruitful subject for Turner;3 the England and Wales view appears to have been informed particularly by slight drawings in the Windsor and St Anne’s Hill sketchbook of about 1827 (Tate D20559–D20561; Turner Bequest CCXXV 2, 2a, 3), possibly augmented by more detailed views from the north-west in the earlier Richmond Hill; Hastings to Margate sketchbook (Tate D10434; Turner Bequest CXL 13).
Shanes describes the present work as a ‘diaphanously’ painted ‘underlying colour structure’,4 but there are enough correlations in colour and form to make the identification likely. The relationship between trees in the middle distance and the castle beyond is different in each of the three Windsor and St Anne’s Hill sketches; in this colour beginning they are shown to the right of the distant buildings, whereas in the completed design they appear towards the left, in front of the castle, showing Turner’s exploration of the compositional permutations as well as the golden hazy atmosphere evoked here and developed in the finished watercolour as an early morning scene with the central sun over the skyline in the manner of Claude Lorrain (1604/5–1682), so admired and so often emulated by Turner.5
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.397 no.829, reproduced.
Shanes 1997, pp.27, 95, 104.
See David Hill, Turner on the Thames: River Journeys in the Year 1805, New Haven and London 1993, pp.63–75.
Shanes 1997, p.27.
See Ian Warrell and others, Turner Inspired: In the Light of Claude, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery, London 2012.
Blank (laid down and not examined).

Matthew Imms
March 2013

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