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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Castle Upnor c.1829-30

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Castle Upnor c.1829–30
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 124
Watercolour on white wove paper, 330 x 551 mm
Watermark ‘T Edmonds 1825’
Inscribed by Turner ‘[?H Water]’ top right
Inscribed in red ink ‘124’ bottom right
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom centre
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 124’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Finberg suggested this colour study’s inscription, which appears to be ‘H Water’,1 reads ‘N. Wales’,2 presumably influencing Andrew Wilton’s identification of the subject as Flint Castle.3 A watercolour of Flint Castle, North Wales of about 1834 (National Gallery Wales, Cardiff)4 was engraved in 1836 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T05873, T06121), and there is a similar watercolour of the scene from about 1830 (private collection).5 The relationships of castle, shore, sun and water are comparable.
However, Ian Warrell has since recognised this as relating directly to the watercolour Castle Upnor, Kent of about 1831 (Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester),6 engraved in 1833 for England and Wales (Tate impression: T06102); the castle is based on a drawing in the Medway sketchbook (Tate D17405; Turner Bequest CXCIX 23a), and the overall view on Tate D17501 and D17502 (Turner Bequest CXCIX 87a–88) in the same book.7 Warrell observes that Turner here establishes the ‘bare essentials’ of the scene, ‘concentrating ... on exactly how the golden sunlight will pervade his design’.8 Inés Richter-Musso describes the work as ‘almost abstract. A glittering sun has been positioned ... so that the viewer cannot help but gaze directly on it ... The effect is comparable to an overexposed photograph.’9
Eric Shanes proposes another sheet (Tate D25276; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 154) as a variant Castle Upnor design. 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.
As given in Egerton 1995, p.135.
Finberg 1909, II, p.823.
Wilton 1983, p.270; Turner’s inscription transcribed ibid., p.269, as ‘N Water (ou Wales)’.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.401 no.868, reproduced.
Ibid., pp.403–4 no.885, reproduced.
Ibid., p.399 no.847, reproduced.
Warrell 1991, p.48.
Warrell 2002, p.197.
Richter-Musso 2011, p.[208].
Technical notes:
Peter Bower notes that this is a half sheet from a batch of unbleached paper made by the Thomas Edmonds Mill at Rye Mill, Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.1 There are heavy pencil marks, presumably made as indications for mounting, excluding about 35 mm from the top and about 130 mm of the right-hand side. Shanes relates the paper to other ‘colour beginning’ sheets (Tate D25302, D25346, D25347, D25447; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 180, 224, 225, 324).2
Bower 1999, p.85 under no.45 and note 2; for Edmonds see also pp.83–4.
Shanes 1996, p.96.
Blank, save for an area of grey watercolour wash at the bottom right corner and inscriptions: in pencil by ?Turner ‘40’ towards centre right, upside down; inscribed in pencil ‘AB 93 P’ towards bottom right; stamped in black with Turner Bequest monogram above ‘CCLXIII – 124’ bottom right; and inscribed in pencil ‘CCLXIII 124’ towards bottom right.
Ian Warrell notes that this sheet was grouped by John Ruskin with others in a parcel marked ‘Colour effects. finer’.1

Matthew Imms
March 2013

Warrell 1991, p.41.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Castle Upnor c.1829–30 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, March 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2013, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-castle-upnor-r1144243, accessed 26 January 2022.