The first owners of Warkworth Castle, Sunset, the Leader family, collected other works by both Turner and Girtin, including the latter’s great view of Bridgnorth from 1802 (TG1755), and it is quite possible that a change of attribution took place at the time of this work’s first sale in 1843 (Exhibitions: Christie’s, 18 March 1843, lot 49). Moreover, there may be a simple, alternative explanation for the watercolour’s resemblance to Turner’s on-the-spot sketch that led Wilton to conclude that both views were by him. Thus, following the suggestion of Hill, I have been able to identify as many as a dozen instances where Turner appears to have been inspired by the sight of Girtin’s sketches from his 1796 tour to adopt a similar or very close viewpoint when undertaking his own on-the-spot drawings in 1797, including a number of views of York and Durham (such as TG1075 and TG1655) (Hill, 1996, pp.4–5). Contrary to Wilton’s assertion, and in light of these examples, it seems to me that there are enough small (but not insignificant) differences between Turner’s pencil sketch (see figure 1) and the finished watercolour to suggest that the latter was inspired by a Girtin on-the-spot drawing that showed a similar but more distant view of the castle, and that it was this lost sketch that provided the basis for Warkworth Castle, Sunset.
Bristol Harbour, with St Mary Redcliffe in the Distance
Bolton Abbey, from the River Wharfe
1796 - 1797
Durham Cathedral and Castle, from the River Wear
1796 - 1797
York: Pavement, Looking towards All Saints
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