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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland c.1837

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland c.1837
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 382
Watercolour on white wove paper, 546 x 752 mm
Watermark ‘J Whatman | Turkey Mill | 1825’
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘[... ?Wreck]’ (see main catalogue entry) bottom right
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Inscribed in red ink ‘cclxiii. | 382’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII 382’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
As discussed in the introduction to the present section, this is one of four identified ‘colour beginnings’ for a large watercolour of Bamborough Castle (private collection)1 exhibited at the Graphic Society, London, in 1837; the others are Tate D25456, D25457 and D36321 (Turner Bequest CCLXIII 333, 334, CCCLXV 30).2
In terms of the main lines of the composition, this is similar to the other studies, but while their skies are filled with dark clouds with the castle glowing brightly against them, here the tonalities are reversed, with the castle silhouetted against a bright, almost clear sky.
Turner’s scrawled pencil inscription of perhaps six or seven words at the bottom right is effectively illegible, although the last word may be ‘Wreck’, which could relate to the finished subject. Finberg gave the title as ‘Study for picture of “Bamborough Castle (?).”’; his double quotation marks imply a transcription, though none of the other words are now easily interpreted as those indicated.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.404 no.895 as ?c.1840; see ‘Bamborough Revisited’, Turner Society News, no.107, December 2007, p.1, reproduced in colour.
See Hill 1996, pp.78, 188, 191, Shanes 1997, p.93, and Piggott 2008, p.17.
Technical notes:
There is a faint, intermittent, darkened vertical line through the watercolour 90 mm in from the left-hand edge, catching the edge of a slight vertical fold indented from the verso. A rougher vertical fold runs down the centre, just to the left of the castle.
Blank; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram over ‘CCLXIII 382’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
November 2012

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland c.1837 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 2012, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-bamburgh-castle-northumberland-r1141242, accessed 16 January 2021.