Press Releases

Turner in north Wales, 1799

on loan from Tate Britain

National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff
2 October 2004 – 9 January 2005

JMW Turner is widely recognised as one of Britain's great landscape painters. His visits to Wales during the first ten years of his career provided the inspiration for some of his most intense and romantic watercolours.

Turner in north Wales, 1799 (8 October – 9 January 2005) is devoted to Turner's fifth and final tour of Wales in 1799 and brings together 30 works, including outdoor sketches and studio landscapes from the Tate collection. First shown at the Tate in 1999, Turner in north Wales, 1799 has been reassembled exclusively for display at the National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff inspiring new research on the exact locations of some of the landscapes depicted.

Turner was born in Covent Garden, London in 1775 and enjoyed an illustrious career. At the age of 14 he entered the Royal Academy, exhibited his first drawing the following year and his first oil painting in 1796 at the age of 21. By 1800 Turner was acknowledged as one of Britain's leading topographical watercolourists. In 1802 he became a full member of the Royal Academy and remained involved with the institution throughout his career.

Turner sought to raise the status of landscape painting to the realms of high art and found the perfect material in the history of Caernarfon and Dolbadarn castles. To satisfy a contemporary audience he painted historical, classical and biblical subjects to evoke an emotional response. Dolbadarn Castle became the subject of several studies and paintings, including an important oil painting, which became the artist's Diploma work on election to full membership of the Royal Academy. The castle was the site where Llywelyn the Last is thought to have imprisoned his brother, Owain Goch, for over twenty years.

With the exception of a brief excursion in 1808, Turner never returned to Wales after 1799. However, he produced sixteen Welsh subjects in his Picturesque Views in England and Wales between 1827 and 1838. Among these is a dramatic work of Llanberis with Dolbadarn Castle (c 1832); a return to the landscape which had preoccupied the artist in 1799. This was Turner's final representation of a British mountain subject.

20 October, 11am