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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Cilgerran Castle on the Teifi, Looking Upstream 1798

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 37 Recto:
Cilgerran Castle on the Teifi, Looking Upstream 1798
Turner Bequest XXXVIII 88
Pencil and watercolour with stopping-out on white wove paper, 229 x 332 mm
Watermark ‘1794 | J Whatman
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram bottom right
Stamped in black ‘XXXVIII 88’ bottom left, descending vertically
The imposing ruins of the thirteenth-century castle stand on cliffs on the right bank of the River Teifi, opposite the small town of Cilgerran in Cardiganshire (now Dyfed). This view looking downstream emphasises the grandeur of the setting and the deep shadows that gather in the gorge. Finberg records that this sheet was stuck down on board, on the back of which was inscribed (in Turner’s hand?) ‘Mr Fidler 2 feet by 17 | 26 | Mr Woodhouse 14½ x 10½’ (compare the verso of folio 40; D01354; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 100); and by Ruskin ‘“Kilgarren Castle on the Tivy”. Turner’s title, J.R.’1
The drawing was used as the basis for the oil painting Kilgarran Castle on the Twyvey, Hazy Sunrise, previous to a Sultry Day, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1799 (National Trust),2 and the watercolour Kilgarren Castle (Manchester Art Gallery).3 Other views of Cilgerran are on the rectos of folios 38–41 (D01279, D01280, D01354, D01281; Turner Bequest XXXVIII 28, 28a, 100, 29). Together, they supplied Turner with the information he needed to create his highly imaginative watercolour reinterpretation of the subject, Kilgarren Castle, Pembroke, for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales design of about 1828 (private collection),4 engraved in 1829 (Tate impression: T04540). A smaller work in oil on canvas, in the New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester,5 records a view different from any of those in this book.
The subject became popular in the years around the turn of the century, and it is possible that Turner’s Royal Academy exhibit prompted interest among artists who did not generally travel as far west in South Wales as this. One example of such a work is the view of Cilgerran catalogued (with reservations) as by Turner by Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll (private collection),6 which is not by him; it may be by William Havell (1782–1857).
Finberg 1909, I, p.88.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, pp.8–9 no. 11, pl.9 (colour).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.326 no.243, pl.44.
Ibid., p.394 no.806, reproduced.
Butlin and Joll 1984, pp.29–30 no.37, pl.33.
Ibid., p.29 no.36, pl.32.
Blank; stamped in brown ink with Turner Bequest monogram.

Andrew Wilton
May 2013

How to cite

Andrew Wilton, ‘Cilgerran Castle on the Teifi, Looking Upstream 1798 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, April 2015, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-cilgerran-castle-on-the-teifi-looking-upstream-r1173175, accessed 16 February 2019.