Caernarvon Castle, North Wales by Joseph Mallord William Turner.

Caernarvon Castle was built in Wales by Edward I, as part of his oppressive effort to establish English rule. These historic associations, and the castle’s impressive architecture, made it perfect material for artists in search of picturesque subjects.

As a young man Turner is said to have wept when he saw a seaport painted by Claude Lorrain ‘because I shall never be able to paint anything like that picture’. However, the Claudean model of a central sun over water flanked by buildings and shipping served him well in numerous paintings of classical history and myth.

Turner visited North Wales in 1798 and made a number of paintings and drawings of the castle, and in 1799, Turner exhibited a large finished watercolour at the Royal Academy.

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