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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Launceston Castle and St Mary Magdalene's Church from St Thomas's 1814

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 110 Recto:
Launceston Castle and St Mary Magdalene’s Church from St Thomas’s 1814
Turner Bequest CXXXII 110
Pencil on white wove paper, 90 x 152 mm
Inscribed by John Ruskin in red ink ‘110’ bottom right
Stamped in black ‘CXXXII – 110’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Launceston Castle and the tower of St Mary Magdalene’s Church are seen to the south-east, from or near the bridge over the River Kensey. The indeterminate buildings on the left may be part of the ruins of Launceston’s priory, now built over at this point. The hillside below the church and castle has also been developed, but they remain prominent landmarks. There is a similar view from further north on folio 111 recto (D09601).
The small silhouette at the bottom may indicate a rider on a horse or donkey; in the watercolour of Launceston, Cornwall of about 1826 (private collection),1 engraved in 1827 for the series Picturesque Views in England and Wales, a rider, thought to represent the Quaker George Fox, imprisoned at Launceston in 1656,2 is shown directly below the distant castle. Perhaps the rider observed here sowed the idea of that motif in Turner’s mind when he eventually came to make the watercolour.
For further views of Launceston, see under folio 106 recto (D09596).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.392 no.792, reproduced.
See Martha Mel Edmunds, ‘Picture Notes: Launceston Castle’, Turner Studies, vol.4, no.1, Winter 1984, pp.60–1, and Eric Shanes, Turner’s England 1810–38, London 1990, pp.170–1

Matthew Imms
June 2014

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Launceston Castle and St Mary Magdalene’s Church from St Thomas’s 1814 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, June 2014, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, September 2014, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-launceston-castle-and-st-mary-magdalenes-church-from-st-r1147149, accessed 20 January 2021.