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Turner's Yorkshire

The young JMW Turner first visited Yorkshire at the age of 22 and over the course of four ‘tours’ sketched and painted over 70 places in the region.

Described as ‘the painter of light’, he was inspired by the romantic landscapes and dramatic castles and abbeys that are still features of North Yorkshire today.

His sketch books show that he took great interest in Boroughbridge, Masham, West Tanfield and Ripon capturing the idyllic scenes of soaring spires, bridges stretching over wide rivers and rolling hills and big skies.

These sketch books have now been digitised by the Tate and can be viewed online

More famously he visited Knaresborough, Fountains Abbey, Hackfall Woods which inspired watercolours and Plumpton Rocks which he captured in oils.

The Places:

Knaresborough was an important site to Turner.

He first visited in 1797 and produced several sketches including a fine view of the medieval ruins of Knaresborough Castle, towering above the River Nidd.  

Established as a leading landscape painter, he returned in 1816 and again produced many sketches. 

Around 1825, this work culminated into a wonderful watercolour of the Castle and castle mills from the river bank.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-knaresborough-castle-tw1658

Today this view of Knaresborough Castle is complemented by the iconic viaduct that arches across the deep gorge of the River Nidd. 

Turner visited Yorkshire’s finest Cistercian Abbey, Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal on two occasions.

This breathtakingly beautiful spot filled his sketchbooks and inspired watercolours, one of which he exhibited at the Royal Academy.

Today the ethereal quality of this World Heritage Site still inspires artists whether professional or amateur.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-interior-of-fountains-abbey-tw1405

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-the-dormitory-and-transept-of-fountains-abbey-evening-tw0862

Hackfall Woods, now owned by the Woodland Trust, is a Grade 1 registered landscape garden and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

A £1 million restoration project, funded by the Heritage Lottery fund and other bodies has recovered this lost landscape.

Today it is much-loved hidden gem and in the carpark, you can see a copy of Turner’s painting displayed alongside that of local artist, Ian Scott Massie who was commissioned to capture the same landscape three centuries later.

More of his work is on display in the nearby Masham Gallery.

In Turner's day the Woodland Trust site of Hackfall Woods was famous as one of the finest and largest wild gardens in Britain.

Landscaped by the Aislabie family who also designed nearby Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, it is set in a deep gorge with pathways, follies, grottos and water features.

Turner was captivated by the views and his many sketches resulted in two finished watercolours.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-hackfall-near-ripon-tw0578

Plumpton Rocks, once known as Plompton Rocks, is a large 18th Century garden created around the unusually shaped outcrops of gritstone.

With a romantic lake and ‘blooming verdure’, it was a beauty spot which was once part of the Harewood Estate.

The 1st Earl of Harewood was an early patron of the up-and-coming Turner and commissioned to capture the scene and others on the Estate in oil to hang in the Saloon of Harewood House.

From time to time, these are on display at Harewood.

Spotlight On

Hackfall Woods

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Knaresborough Castle & Museum

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