J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner A River Scene, Possibly the River Dee and Flint Castle c.1820-40

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
A River Scene, Possibly the River Dee and Flint Castle c.1820–40
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 317
Watercolour on white wove paper, 141 x 226 mm
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 317’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner’s watercolour Flint Castle, North Wales of about 1834–5 (National Museum Wales, Cardiff)1 was engraved in 1836 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T05873, T06121; see under Tate D36319; Turner Bequest CCCLXV 28). The castle, which Turner had first visited in 1794,2 stands on the Welsh west bank of the broad, tidal Dee Estuary. In discussing that treatment, Eric Shanes has proposed that this smaller sheet ‘might represent Flint Castle, the Wirral and the Dee estuary looking south-eastwards. Though Flint is in Wales, the far side of the Dee is in England, and so the sketch might have been made in connection with the Rivers of England series.’3 For that engraving project, see Alice Rylance-Watson’s ‘Rivers of England c.1822–4’ section in the present catalogue.
Such a possibility remains unresolved, and Gerald Wilkinson has suggested that the ‘composition has classical connotations and is conceived in the primary (Turner’s “primitive”) colours, much faded as the edges show. The “river”4 may be a bay with an island, or it could be an estuary.’5
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.401 no.868, reproduced.
See Shanes 1997, p.43 for other Flint Castle works.
Ibid.; see also pp.101, 103.
See Cook and Wedderburn 1904, p.641, and Finberg 1909, II, p.838.
Wilkinson 1975, p.124.
Technical notes:
The blue areas have faded substantially except at the left and right-hand edges. There is a fold down the centre
Blank; inscribed in pencil ‘D25440’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
August 2016

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘A River Scene, Possibly the River Dee and Flint Castle c.1820–40 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, August 2016, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, February 2017, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-river-scene-possibly-the-river-dee-and-flint-castle-r1184462, accessed 15 April 2024.