J M W Turner

Dolbadarn Castle

 

This painting of Dolbadarn Castle is the preliminary study for Turner's diploma composition exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1802. The study was based upon sketches taken at the castle in 1798.

The panel is an important example of Turner's early creativity and working process. Here the artist has combined plein aire sketches with a neo-hitorical theme from Welsh history. The figure of Owain Goch and soldiers or his brother Llywelyn ap Gruffudd are clearly identifiable in the foreground - Owain was captured by his brother and imprisoned at Dolbadarn tower from 1255 until 1277.

The topography of the Dolbadarn area is clearly depicted by this early masterpiece. Turner weaves and combines several of the prospects around the castle to produce a landscape which has atmosphere, light and sense of place. At the same time his composition gives the scene a deep melancholy which can be felt rather than explained. The panel may related to his early Romantic pictures such as Morning amongst the Coniston Fells, Cumberland exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1798.

This picture was purchased by the National Library of Wales from Christie's auction house in 1998. The purchase was made with the aid of a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and a grant from the National Art Collections Fund.