Turner comes to the South West

On 14th December, Dreweatts at Donnington Priory in Berkshire, is offering a privately owned watercolour by JMW Turner RA in its Old Master & 19th Century Paintings sale.

Lot 82: Donnington Castle, Newbury, Berkshire by JMW Turner RA

We are delighted to be offering this charming early watercolour by one of the greatest landmark British artists of the 19th century,’ said Archie Parker, Dreweatts’ Picture specialist. ‘It is particularly appropriate that the vendor should have brought the picture here as not only is it of Donnington Castle half a mile away from us, but it is also a key part of local history!’

Donnington Castle was built by its original owner, Richard Abberbury the Elder, in a rectangular form, with a curtain wall cornered by four round towers, two square wall towers, and an imposing gatehouse, constructed around a courtyard.

When the English Civil War broke out in 1643, the castle was owned by the Parliamentarian John Packer family but after the First Battle of Newbury it was taken for the King, Charles I, and held by Sir John Boys. It succeeded in guarding the major routeways from London to the West Country and Oxford to Southampton. During the Second Battle of Newbury, the castle continued to resist the Parliamentary attackers. Finally, after an eighteen month siege, the garrison abandoned the damaged castle, and in 1646 Parliament voted to demolish the castle leaving only the gatehouse remaining, which was then restored to John Packer. All that remains of the castle today is the substantial four towered gatehouse, and the surrounding earthworks. The position of this imposing ruin, on the main route from London to Bath and Bristol inspired many artists to paint it, including JMW Turner.

The watercolour (15.2 x 23.5 cm or 6 x 9 ins) is a charming pastoral scene of rolling hills, beautiful autumnal trees, cows grazing by a small lake and a group of milkmaids having a picnic with Donnington Castle in the distance.

This quintessentially English scene was later engraved by W&L Byrne and titled ‘Donnington Castle, taken from a Field adjoining the Road to East Ilsley, from Newbury. Published 1st January 1805, London.’

This early watercolour signed with initials is datable to circa 1800 and is expected to sell for £40,000-60,000.

Provenance: Donnington Castle House, Newbury, Berkshire.
Engraved: W. & L. Byrneby W.m Byrne, Titchfield Street, and T. Cadell & W. Davies, Strand. This engraving was also used for D. & S. Lyson's, Magna Britannia, published 1806-22 in 6 volumes, the intention was to write the history of every county in England, though unfortunately only 6 counties were completed.

To view the sale catalogue online, please click here.

For further press information please email press@dnfa.com or call the Dreweatts’ Donnington Priory Salerooms on 01635 553553.

Dreweatts - 22 November 2011