Turner’s abbeys, castles and houses


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From the medieval fortresses of Bolton Castle and Knaresborough

Turner's trips to Yorkshire led him to paint the finest castles and houses all over the county. He focused on the angles of the buildings and light that reflected their grandeur. From the medieval fortresses of Bolton Castle and Knaresborough, to the elegant Harewood House and Farnley Hall, he would sit and sketch every detail.

Farnley Hall was the main base for his visits, thanks to the friendship and patronage of its owner, Walter Fawkes.
His association with Fawkes was to last nearly 20 years. (Farnley Hall is now a private residence).

Often visited by the artist, Harewood House was the home of the First Earl and Countess of Harewood. Turner's first commission for landscapes in oil was of Plompton Rocks, an estate also owned by the Lascelles family at the time, not far from Harewood.  These paintings are still housed at Harewood today.

Look carefully at Turner's paintings. He includes people in many of them, especially those who worked in the landscapes. His watercolour of Richmond Castle and Town includes a milkmaid, probably the 'Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill.'

Yorkshire also boasts many fine abbeys, minsters and churches that created wonderful architectural subjects for Turner. From Wakefield Bridge and Chapel, where you can see the sun shining across the bridge to highlight the Chapel, to the impressive detail of Kirkstall Abbey, he sketched the buildings from every angle and the surrounding landscape. His fascination with light enhanced every detail of the architecture.

His watercolour of Rievaulx Abbey captures the light and mystery of this ruined monastery. His sketches of Beverley Minster show the detailed internal and external features of this Gothic building.  Wander around the grand minsters and abbeys that captured Turner's imagination. See for yourself why the 'painter of light' was intrigued by the altars and
arches of places like Fountains Abbey, York Minster, Bolton Abbey and many more.


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