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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner ?Dunstanburgh Castle c.1828

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
?Dunstanburgh Castle c.1828
Turner Bequest CCLXIII 191
Watercolour and gouache on white wove paper, 273 x 435 mm
Watermark ‘J Whatman | Turkey Mill | 1825
Blind-stamped with Turner Bequest monogram towards bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CCLXIII – 191’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This colour study has been proposed by Eric Shanes as relating to the watercolour Dunstanborough Castle, Northumberland of about 1828 (Manchester Art Gallery),1 engraved in 1830 for the Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T04553, T06085).2 Turner first visited the coastal ruin in 1797 and produced watercolours and paintings of it until as late as 1834, including a watercolour design of about 1806–7 for the Liber Studiorum (Tate D08118; Turner Bequest CXVI Q) under which the various versions are discussed in detail. The setting of the view to the north in the Liber design is closely comparable with the England and Wales version.
Shanes has suggested that the ‘very cursory but topographically accurate’3 approximation of the present composition to other versions may be explained by Turner’s ‘working here at speed and from memory’ to establish a general sense of the castle at dawn. David Hill has described Shanes’s identification as ‘positively wrong’,4 albeit without offering an alternative.
Gerald Wilkinson notes the ‘very wide angle of view (such as Turner often used, apparently instinctively) which contains in effect two contrasting pictures.’5
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.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.395 no.814, reproduced.
Shanes 1997, pp.55, 96, 105.
Shanes 1997, p.19.
Hill 1997, p.7.
Wilkinson 1975, p.145.
Technical notes:
As often in such compositions by Turner, the disk of the sun is reserved as blank white paper for maximum luminosity. Eric Shanes notes that the sun’s reflection ‘was achieved by the removal of colour with a sponge’, while the ‘sunlit areas of the castle are painted in gouache’.1
A vertical tear from the middle of the top edge has been repaired from the verso.
Shanes 1997, p.55.

Matthew Imms
March 2013

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘?Dunstanburgh Castle c.1828 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-dunstanburgh-castle-r1144253, accessed 29 October 2020.