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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Durham Castle and Framwellgate Bridge 1817

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 6 Recto:
Durham Castle and Framwellgate Bridge 1817
Turner Bequest CLVII 6
Pencil on white wove paper, 116 x 185 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘6’ bottom right (now faint)
Stamped in black ‘CLVII – 6’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Durham Castle is seen from north of the Cathedral and the present University Library, looking down on Framwellgate Bridge crossing the Wear, with Aykley Heads rising beyond. The area north-west of the bridge has seen much development, including the construction of Milburngate Bridge. This is the first of a continuous run of drawings of Durham, concluding on folio 14 recto (D12334); there is one further sketch, on folio 76 verso (D12414).
Turner had previously visited the city in 1797, on his tour of the north of England. There are drawings in the North of England sketchbook (Tate D00937; Turner Bequest XXXIV 31) and the Tweed and Lakes sketchbook (Tate D01013–D01018, D01091; XXXV 10–15 and XXXV 89), and ensuing watercolours showing the interior of the cathedral (Tate D01101; Turner Bequest XXXVI G; and in a private collection1) and the exterior (Royal Academy of Arts, London).2
He passed through again on his Scottish tour in 1801, making extensive studies in the Helmsley sketchbook (Tate D02483–D02508, D02608, D02609; Turner Bequest LIII 15a–28, 97 and 98, the last two with watercolour, showing a rainbow), the Dunbar sketchbook (Tate D02619, D02620; Turner Bequest LIV 4 and 4a) and the dismembered Smaller Fonthill sketchbook (Tate D02239, D04184; Turner Bequest XLVIII 4 and LXX g; and further leaves elsewhere: Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachussetts,3 a private collection,4 Leeds City Art Gallery (two sheets),5 National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh,6 and Ashmolean Museum, Oxford7).

Of the works possibly derived from the 1817 visit, there is a much later watercolour of the cathedral from Prebends’ Bridge, of about 1836 (National Gallery of Scotland),8 which was engraved for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales. There are two rough sketches of the cathedral from this direction on folios 8 recto and 9 recto of the present sketchbook (D12327, D12328).
Two undated colour studies can be related to the England and Wales watercolour (Tate D25247, D36274; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 125 and CCCLXIV a 406). The first, with the cathedral’s towers against a dark sky with a rainbow, has been dated to about 1817 or a year or two later as perhaps an idea for Surtees’s History of Durham9 (see the introduction to the tour). The second, a sunset scene with a pale sky, is much closer to the finished watercolour, although Eric Shanes has suggested on the bases of size, composition and technique that it may date from as early as about 1824, as a sketch for an unexecuted subject for the Rivers of England project,10 for which there are finished designs at Tate (Turner Bequest CCVIII).

Matthew Imms
February 2010

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.327 no.276, as untraced.
Ibid., p.327 no.249, reproduced.
Not in Wilton 1979.
Wilton 1979, p.335 no.314, reproduced.
A watercolour, ibid., no.315, reproduced; and a pencil drawing not listed by Wilton.
Ibid., no.316, reproduced.
Not in Wilton 1979.
Wilton 1979, p.402 no.873, reproduced.
See Andrew Wilton, Turner in the British Museum: Drawings and Watercolours, exhibition catalogue, Department of Prints and Drawings, British Museum, London 1975, p.50 under no.51; Diane Perkins, The Third Decade: Turner Watercolours 1810–1820, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1990, p.33 under no.27; and Eric Shanes, Turner’s Watercolour Explorations 1810–1842, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1997, p.95.
Shanes 1997, p.64.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Durham Castle and Framwellgate Bridge 1817 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, February 2010, 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-durham-castle-and-framwellgate-bridge-r1139323, accessed 23 October 2021.