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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Cowes from the Battlements of East Cowes Castle 1827

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 16 Verso:
Cowes from the Battlements of East Cowes Castle 1827
Turner Bequest CCXXVII 16a
Pencil on white wove paper, 110 x 185 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘E C Castle’ bottom left
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The drawing is inverted relative to the sketchbook’s foliation. Subsequent to Finberg’s 1909 Inventory, he noted that rather than his tentative identification of the subject as Norris Point on the Isle of Wight,1 it is ‘Inscribed EC Castle | View from East Cowes Castle looking | West | JPH’;2 the initials are those of the etcher and collector John Postle Heseltine (1843–1929), whose occasionally suggestions are noted in copies of the Inventory at Tate Britain (another case being in relation to folio 38 recto; D20789; Turner Bequest CCXXVII 36). The Turner scholar C.F. Bell also recorded the subject as ‘E. C[owes] Castle’,3 presumably also prompted by Turner’s inscription.
The view beneath billowing clouds is from the battlemented roof of East Cowes Castle, the Isle of Wight home of the architect John Nash where Turner enjoyed an extended stay in the late summer of 1827, looking north-west over the mouth of the River Medina to Cowes, with the tower of St Mary’s Church (also designed by Nash) on the hill and Cowes Castle on the shore at the far right, and the coast of Hampshire across the Solent beyond.
The house no longer exists, but it and Turner’s visit are discussed in the Introduction to the present tour and in the Introduction to the subsection of ink drawings on blue paper showing various aspects of the castle and its surroundings; those separate sheets include three similar views (Tate D24861–D24863; Turner Bequest CCLX 25, 26, 27). Compare also the views of Cowes from the east in the contemporary Cowes Regatta and Windsor and Cowes, Isle of Wight sketchbooks (Tate D18028, D20662; Turner Bequest CCVII 21, CCXXVI 40a).
The present sketch is perhaps the best evidence to link this sketchbook to 1827 in particular; for Isle of Wight views on other pages see under folio 2 recto (D20735).

Matthew Imms
November 2015

Finberg 1909, II, p.699.
Undated MS notes by Finberg (died 1939) in interleaved copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, II, opposite p.699.
Undated MS note by Bell (died 1966) in copy of Finberg 1909, Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room, II, p.699.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Cowes from the Battlements of East Cowes Castle 1827 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, November 2015, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, November 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-cowes-from-the-battlements-of-east-cowes-castle-r1182624, accessed 20 May 2024.