- Museum number
Weathercote Cave; view of the cave with a waterfall issuing from the side of a cliff, forming a narrow stream on the left, a broad stream on the right, small rainbow between, trees around the edge of the cliff. c.1818
Watercolour, with scratching out
- Production date
- 1818 (circa)
Height: 299 millimetres
Width: 421 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The caves and waterfalls around Ingleton, on the westerly fringes of the Yorkshire Dales, had been celebrated in several late eighteenth-century guidebooks, but had attracted few artists when Turner came to visit them, first in 1808, then, in connection with his commissions for illustrations for Thomas Whitaker's 'History of Richmondshire', in 1816. In 1808, Turner was able to scramble right into the bottom of the twenty-metre deep gorge of Weathercote Cave, and he produced a watercolour for Walter Fawkes, showing an artist sketching there, as if to underline his achievement in recording the remarkable location at first-hand (W451, Graves Art Gallery Sheffield).
When he returned to the spot in 1816, it was after days of heavy rain, and he found the cave submerged in water and inaccessible. His drawing is inscribed, 'Weather Cote full' (TB CXLVII 33v). Turner drew the spot looking down into the space of the cave, without the water level being precisely indicated. When the publishers of the book came to sell the series of watercolours in 1822, they stated this one depicted the cave 'when half filled with water'. The piece of stone wedged across the gully to the left was known as 'Mahomet's coffin'. The rainbow in the lower centre, a delicate haze of colour added over a sponged out arc, is more prominent in the engraving. Its presence may reflect the description in one of the better known earlier accounts of the spot, John Hutton's 'Tour to the Caves in the Environs of Ingleborough' (1780), who noted, 'The sun happened to shine very bright, we had a small vivid rainbow within a few yards of us, for colour, size, situation, perhaps nowhere else to be equalled'.
For a full account of the 'Richmondshire' watercolours, see 1910,0212.274.
David Hill, 'In Turner's footsteps', 1984, pp. 96-99, 108 and pl. 20; 'Turner and Dr Whitaker', Townley Hall, Burnley, 1982, cat. 68 (photograph exhibited).
This is the watercolour made for one of the series of twenty views engraved after Turner's designs for 'The History of Richmondshire', published by Longman's between 1819 and 1823; it was engraved by Samuel Middiman in 1821 with the title Weathercote Cave, near Ingleton, when half-filled with Water and the Entrance impassable. Turner received the commission through the antiquarian author Dr Whitaker early in 1816; it was originally for a very much larger series, which would have comprised a History of Yorkshire.
Most of the watercolours were based on drawings made by Turner in the course of a tour in Yorkshire in 1816 which he undertook especially for this project. He used as his base Farnley Hall, the home of his friend and patron Walter Fawkes. The diary kept by Mrs Fawkes, and Turner's own correspondence, record the worst kind of English summer weather: "rained all day", "heavy rain", "weather miserably wet". Nevertheless Turner filled several sketchbooks with rapid studies, including a pencil drawing of Weathercote Cave, which he had visited before, probably in 1808. On this later occasion the heavy rain had half-filled the seventy-foot deep cave so that he was obliged to make his sketch from above. In the watercolour he shows the water flowing in from the right. Turner's capacity for pictorial synthesis can be seen at work in the final water-colour; he includes a distant view of Whernside, which as David Hills has pointed out ('Turner in Yorkshire, exhibition catalogue, York', 1980, p.82) "may be cerebrally true but is visually impossible", and a rainbow, of which there was no indication in the pencil study.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1822 Leeds, Northern Soc. Encouragement of the Arts, Annual Exh. no.127
1901 Glasgow, International Exhibition, no.805
1905 London, Agnew's,
1910 London, Agnew's, Collection of the late Mr George Salting, no.222
1934 BM, Exhibition of English Art, no.359
1958 Apr, BM, Eight Centuries of European water-colours, case 61
1975 BM, Turner in the BM, no.55
1980, June-July, York City Art Gallery, Turner in Yorkshire, no.127
1981 May-Aug, Nottingham, Castle Museum, 'English Watercolours'
1983/4 Oct-Jan, Paris, Musée du Louvre, 'Turner', no. 127
1985, BM, British Landscape Watercolours 1600-1860, no.91
1991 Jan-Mar, Cleveland MA, Ohio, BM English Watercolours, no.43
1991 Mar-June, N Carolina MA, BM English Watercolours, no.43
1996 Mar-June, Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, JMW Turner
2007/8 Oct-Jan, Washington, Nat Gall of Art, JMW Turner
2008 Feb-May, Texas, Dallas Museum of Art, JMW Turner
- Associated titles
Associated Title: History of Richmondshire
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number