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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner ?Dunster Castle 1811

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
?Dunster Castle 1811
Pencil on white wove paper, 208 x 302 mm
Inscribed by Turner in pencil ‘Dunster Castle’ top right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The very slight and rapid drawing at the bottom right appears to be a profile of a building or buildings, with two vertical features which may be chimneys or towers. It has been cancelled, perhaps immediately, with a vigorous zig-zag line. Turner may have started the study while on the move – a so-called ‘carriage sketch’ – before abandoning it. Such crossings-out are rare among the drawings surviving in the Turner Bequest.
The inscription suggests its subject, though the sketch is too rough to make the connection certain. There are clear studies of the Somerset castle in the present sketchbook (D08953, D08955; CXXVI 7, 9), and distant views of Dunster scattered through the Devonshire Coast, No.1 sketchbook, although some of the identifications are less certain than others (Tate D08398, D08654, D08672, D08683, D08699, D08732, D08747, D08768; Turner Bequest CXXIII 19a, 153, 162a, 168a, 178v, 202, 210a, 225).
Technical notes:
The drawing is not listed by Finberg, and does not physically match the other leaves from the Somerset and North Devon sketchbook.1 It is not clear how or when this sheet came to be associated with them. It does not have the stitch holes common to the others, is thinner and of different proportions, and appears to have been part of a larger sheet, three edges being trimmed straight while the top is torn fairly roughly. There is some creasing and a little black spotting, and a tear to the left-hand edge.

Matthew Imms
January 2011

See A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.I, p.357, CXXVI.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘?Dunster Castle 1811 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, January 2011, 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-dunster-castle-r1137539, accessed 17 February 2020.