J.M.W. Turner, Weathercote Cave, near Ingleton, when half-filled with Water and the Entrance Impassable, a watercolour

England, around AD 1818

In 1816, Turner was commissioned by Dr Thomas Whitaker to produce a series of 120 watercolours to illustrate a history of Yorkshire. The artist worked for Whitaker on two earlier related projects: The History of Whalley (1800-01), and The History of Craven (1812). The project was eventually scaled down to encompass only the area around the town of Richmond, for which Turner made twenty watercolours, engraved and published in The History of Richmondshire (1819-23). Turner was paid twenty-five guineas for each painting, while the engravers were paid three times this amount.

In July 1816, in very wet weather, Turner had toured the area to make sketches for the series. Although he had been able to enter Weathercote Cave on a previous visit some years before, on this trip the cave was half-full of water. His sketch (Tate Gallery, Turner Bequest CXLVII-33a, Clore Gallery) shows no rainbow, but for the finished watercolour Turner enhanced the scene with this feature of remarkable delicacy, and achieved some striking effects in the foliage by scratching with a blade, and scraping the wet paint with the blunt end of his brush.

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More information


L. Stainton, Nature into art: English lands (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)


Height: 299.000 mm
Width: 421.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1910-2-12-281


Bequeathed by George Salting


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