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Works Thomas Girtin and Joseph Mallord William Turner after (?) Edward Dayes

Dolbadarn Castle on Llyn Padarn

1794 - 1797

Primary Image: TG0910: Thomas Girtin (1775–1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), after (?) Edward Dayes (1763–1804), Dolbadarn Castle on Llyn Padarn, 1794–97, graphite and watercolour on wove paper, 14.9 × 23.8 cm, 5 ⅞ × 9 ⅜ in. The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007 (2007.8.120).

Photo courtesy of The Clark Art Institute, Gift of the Manton Art Foundation in memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, 2007 (Public Domain)

Description
Creator(s)
Thomas Girtin (1775-1802) and Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) after (?) Edward Dayes (1763-1804)
Title
  • Dolbadarn Castle on Llyn Padarn
Date
1794 - 1797
Medium and Support
Graphite and watercolour on wove paper
Dimensions
14.9 × 23.8 cm, 5 ⅞ × 9 ⅜ in
Object Type
Collaborations; Monro School Copy; Work from a Known Source: Contemporary British
Subject Terms
Castle Ruins; Lake Scenery; North Wales

Collection
Catalogue Number
TG0910
Description Source(s)
Gallery Website; Collection Catalogue

Provenance

Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833); his posthumous sale, possibly Christie's, 26 June 1833, lot 87 as 'Llanberis, &c. 5' by 'Turner'; bought by 'Colnaghi', £3 3s; ... Joseph Mayer (1803–86); his posthumous sale, Sotheby’s, 23 July 1887, lot 551 as by Joseph Mallord Turner; bought by 'Hibbert', £5; then by descent to A. Hibbert; Nelly Nussbaumer; her sale, Sotheby's, 15 July 1964, lot 42 as 'Dolbadarn Tower from Lake Llanberis' by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by Alexander Abraham, £200; his sale, Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, 7 April 1966, lot 83 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner; bought by Sir Edwin Alfred Grenville Manton (1909–2005); Manton Family Art Foundation, 2005–07; presented to the Institute, 2007

Bibliography

Wilton, 2001, pp.33–34 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin; Clarke, 2012, no.140, p.265 as by Joseph Mallord William Turner and Thomas Girtin; Bishop, 2018–19, pp.91–92

About this Work

This view of the thirteenth-century Dolbadarn Castle on a promontory overlooking Llyn Padarn, north-west of Snowdon, was made at the home of Dr Thomas Monro (1759–1833), where Girtin and his contemporary Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) were employed across three winters, probably between 1794 and 1797. Their task, as they recalled to the diarist Joseph Farington (1747–1821), was to copy ‘the outlines or unfinished drawings of’ principally John Robert Cozens (1752–97), but other artists too, including Girtin’s master, Edward Dayes (1763–1804). The ‘finished drawings’ they were commissioned to produce were the result of a strict division of labour: ‘Girtin drew in outlines and Turner washed in the effects’. As the young artists reported, ‘They went at 6 and staid till Ten’, with Turner receiving ‘3s. 6d each night’ whilst ‘Girtin did not say what He had’ (Farington, Diary, 12 November 1798).1 The outcome of their joint labours was substantial, amounting to several hundred drawings of which nine or so are views in North Wales.

Neither Girtin nor Turner is likely to have visited North Wales by the time of the production of this work, and the Monro School Welsh views were presumably made after compositions by other artists, principally Dayes, who also provided the models for the Lake District scenes. As with the numerous copies that Girtin and Turner created from compositions by Cozens, it was the slight sketches and outlines that Dayes made on his travels that were used as the source for their more finished watercolours. Monro’s posthumous sale, in 1833, contained several hundred of Dayes’ sketches, including a dozen or so ‘Views of North Wales’ described as ‘blue and Indian ink sketches’, the medium favoured by the artist for his on-the-spot studies (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 2 July 1833, lot 47). Typically, the precise Dayes source of this popular view of the castle tower near Llanberis has not been traced, though this does not mean we should look elsewhere for its model. Few of Dayes’ sketches have survived and, arguably, the fact that no source can be found suggests that it was a thoroughly unprepossessing drawing that required considerable transformational skills from the young artists.

Monro’s posthumous sale contained more than twenty ‘Views in Wales’ as well as two of ‘Llanberis’, all of which were attributed to Turner (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 26 June 1833, lots 87 and 88). The attribution of the Monro School copies solely to Turner has been challenged in recent years, following the publication of Andrew Wilton’s pioneering article in 1984 (Wilton, 1984a, pp.8–23), and Girtin’s contribution to this work is acknowledged in the catalogues of the collection by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown (Wilton, 2001, pp.33–34; Clarke, 2012, no.140, p.265). Although the watercolour was more extensively worked by Turner in the middle ground than was commonly the case with the Welsh views, enough of Girtin’s distinctive pencil work remains visible, particularly in the distant mountains, to be reasonably sure of his involvement, albeit at the most basic level, copying a simple outline from another drawing. Turner’s pencil drawing of the same view of Dolbadarn, which was executed on his Welsh tour in 1798, is in the ‘Hereford’ sketchbook, part of the Turner Bequest at Tate Britain (XXXVIII 47).

by Greg Smith

Place depicted

Footnotes

  1. 1 The full diary entry, giving crucial details of the artists’ work at Monro’s house, is transcribed in the Documents section of the Archive (1798 – Item 2).

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