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

ISBN 978-1-84976-386-8

Joseph Mallord William Turner Windsor Castle from the River Thames c.1827

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 2 Recto:
Windsor Castle from the River Thames c.1827
Turner Bequest CCXXVI 2
Pencil on white wove paper, 112 x 192 mm
Inscribed in pencil ‘[...]’ bottom left
Stamped in black ‘CCXXVI – 2’ bottom right
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner’s viewpoint here is the Brocas meadows on the north side of the River Thames, looking south-east. Eric Shanes has mentioned this drawing, its verso and folio 3 recto (D20599, D20600)1 in relation to the watercolour Windsor Castle of about 1828–9 (British Museum, London),2 engraved in 1831 for Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales (Tate impressions: T05086, T06093); see also the related ‘colour beginning’ (Tate D25156; Turner Bequest CCLXIII 34).
This is the first in the sequence of sketches of the castle (see also folios 6 recto and verso, 7 recto, 9 verso; D20604–D20606, D20609) and nearby Eton College (on folios 4 recto and verso, 5 recto, 10 recto; D20601, D20602, D20603, D20610). For the corresponding England and Wales design showing Eton, see under D20610.
There are similar views of the castle across the meadows in the Windsor and St Anne’s Hill sketchbook, which also seems to have been in use around 1827; by accident or design, the first three sketches here have direct counterparts in the other book (Tate D20559–D20561; Turner Bequest CCXXV 2, 2a, 3). All six show the same trees in the middle distance, hatched and shaded to varying degrees, presumably in full leaf against light from the south, an effect Turner retained in the watercolour while at the same time doubling the relative height of the buildings for pictorial effect and so as not to be obscured by the foliage, shown there directly below the north-eastern end of the complex. There are indications of cloud in the present sequence, and also of the morning sun in D20600, as seen in the watercolour, whereas the Windsor and St Anne’s Hill skies are blank.
Self-evidently, such comparable drawings in two different sketchbooks were either done on the same visit, or on similar walks beside the Thames on two separate occasions, but there do not seem to be enough differences in handling and degrees of detail to make a definitive statement as to which might have come first. The Windsor and Eton subjects in the first few pages here are interspersed with marine subjects at the start and on folios 8 recto and 9 recto (D20607, D20608), perhaps suggesting that Turner had used the book along the Thames first and economically used up the remaining blank pages on the Isle of Wight.
Contemporary with Turner’s sketch, an 1827 watercolour by William Daniell (1769–1837), Windsor Castle from near Brocas Meadows (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven), aquatinted for the series Select Views of Windsor Castle and the Adjacent Scenery, shows a similar prospect. Turner had long been familiar with the castle and the nearby school,3 making a careful watercolour interpretation of Paul Sandby’s view of the latter in about 1787 (Tate D00003; Turner Bequest I C), and first drawing the castle directly in about 1792 (Tate D00118–D00120; Turner Bequest VIII D, E, F).
There are two or three small, illegible letters in pencil at the bottom left, apparently in a later hand.

Matthew Imms
November 2015

See Shanes 1979, p.156.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.397 no.829, reproduced, as c.1829; Kim Sloan, J.M.W. Turner: Watercolours from the R.W. Lloyd Bequest in the British Museum, London 1998, p.98 no.30, reproduced in colour p.[99], as c.1828–9.
See David Hill, Turner on the Thames: River Journeys in the Year 1805, New Haven and London 1993, particularly pp.63–75.

How to cite

Matthew Imms, ‘Windsor Castle from the River Thames c.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-windsor-castle-from-the-river-thames-r1183238, accessed 21 June 2024.