Joseph Mallord William Turner

Windsor Castle; Eton College, and Houses nearby on the River Thames


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 116 × 222 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXV 4 a

Catalogue entry

At the top is the north front of Windsor Castle, looking south-west from near the River Thames, as a supplementary study to the views on folios 1 recto, 2 recto and verso and 3 recto (D20558–D20561). The main sketch, across the middle of the page, was made at or near the same viewpoint, and shows Eton College. The castellated school, about half a mile north of the castle on the opposite bank, was founded by Henry VI in 1440 and is dominated by the Perpendicular Gothic chapel he had built over the next two decades;1 it is seen from the east, with the Thames in the foreground. Perhaps owing to Finberg’s misidentification of this subject as ‘St. George’s Chapel’2 at Windsor Castle, it does not appear to have been recognised previously as the direct source for the watercolour Eton College of about 1829 (currently untraced),3 engraved for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales in 1831 (Tate impressions: T04576, T04577).
Turner had first addressed the subject in 1787 (Tate D00003; Turner Bequest I C), copying a print by Paul Sandby. By 1799 he was making a pencil study (Tate D02212; Turner Bequest XLVII 35) in preparation for an engraved view of 1803 (Tate impression: T05941). In 1805 he drew the school in the Wey, Guildford sketchbook (including Tate D06344, D06354, D06358; Turner Bequest XCVIII 129a, 134a, 136a), and a little later in the Windsor and Eton sketchbook (Tate D06075–D06081; Turner Bequest XCVII 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). His painting The Thames at Eton was exhibited in 1808 (Tate T03873; on display at Petworth House, West Sussex).4
He later developed the subject for the Liber Studiorum around 1818–22 (Tate D08174; Turner Bequest CXVIII T). There is another view in the Naples, Paestum and Rome sketchbook, largely in use in 1819 (Tate D16087; Turner Bequest CLXXXVI 90a), and others, possibly of 1827 and perhaps made on the same occasion as the present drawing (see this sketchbook’s Introduction), in the Windsor and Cowes, Isle of Wight sketchbook (Tate D20601, D20602; Turner Bequest CCXXVI 4, 4a).

Matthew Imms
August 2014

See ‘A brief history of Eton College’, Eton College, accessed 6 March 2014,
Finberg 1909, II, p.694.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.397 no.830, reproduced.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.55 no.71, pl.81.
See Eric Shanes, Turner’s England 1810–38, London 1990, pp.209, 285 note 150, reproducing the Daniell for comparison as fig.24.

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