Joseph Mallord William Turner

Windsor Castle from the River Thames


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 192 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCXXVI 2

Catalogue entry

Turner’s viewpoint here is the Brocas meadows on the north side of the River Thames, looking south-east. Eric Shanes has mentioned this drawing, its verso and folio 3 recto (D20599, D20600)1 in relation to the watercolour Windsor Castle of about 1828–9 (British Museum, London),2 engraved in 1831 for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T05086, T06093); see also the related ‘colour beginning’ (Tate D25156; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 34).
This is the first in the sequence of sketches of the castle (see also folios 6 recto and verso, 7 recto, 9 verso; D20604–D20606, D20609) and nearby Eton College (on folios 4 recto and verso, 5 recto, 10 recto; D20601, D20602, D20603, D20610). For the corresponding England and Wales design showing Eton, see under D20610.
There are similar views of the castle across the meadows in the Windsor and St Anne’s Hill sketchbook, which also seems to have been in use around 1827; by accident or design, the first three sketches here have direct counterparts in the other book (Tate D20559–D20561; Turner Bequest CCXXV 2, 2a, 3). All six show the same trees in the middle distance, hatched and shaded to varying degrees, presumably in full leaf against light from the south, an effect Turner retained in the watercolour while at the same time doubling the relative height of the buildings for pictorial effect and so as not to be obscured by the foliage, shown there directly below the north-eastern end of the complex. There are indications of cloud in the present sequence, and also of the morning sun in D20600, as seen in the watercolour, whereas the Windsor and St Anne’s Hill skies are blank.
Self-evidently, such comparable drawings in two different sketchbooks were either done on the same visit, or on similar walks beside the Thames on two separate occasions, but there do not seem to be enough differences in handling and degrees of detail to make a definitive statement as to which might have come first. The Windsor and Eton subjects in the first few pages here are interspersed with marine subjects at the start and on folios 8 recto and 9 recto (D20607, D20608), perhaps suggesting that Turner had used the book along the Thames first and economically used up the remaining blank pages on the Isle of Wight.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

See Shanes 1979, p.156.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.397 no.829, reproduced, as c.1829; Kim Sloan, J.M.W. Turner: Watercolours from the R.W. Lloyd Bequest in the British Museum, London 1998, p.98 no.30, reproduced in colour p.[99], as c.1828–9.
See David Hill, Turner on the Thames: River Journeys in the Year 1805, New Haven and London 1993, particularly pp.63–75.

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