Dunstanborough Castle, north-east coast of Northumberland, sunrise after a squally night

Dublin Core


Dunstanborough Castle, north-east coast of Northumberland, sunrise after a squally night


Art, bailey, castle, Dunstanborough Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle, Earl Thomas of Lancaster (c.1278-1322), Edward II (1284-1327), fortress, J M W Turner (1775-1851), John of Gaunt (1340-1399), keep, Lancastrians, military stronghold, Northumbria, ruins, sublime, towers, VIC, Victoria, Wars of the Roses, Yorkists


This painting by prominent English artist J M W Turner was gifted to the National Gallery of Victoria in 1888 by the Duke of Westminster. Depicting castle ruins on a rugged cliff top above a stormy ocean, this painting is, as Ted Gott et al suggest, an early work in what would become Turner’s grand theme: “man’s heroic fragility in the face of the powers of nature”. (Ted Gott et al, 19th Century Painting and Sculpture in the International Collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, 2003, p.12).It is also characteristic of the aesthetic of ‘The Sublime’, which became popular in the late eighteenth century. The ruins featured in the painting are those of fourteenth-century Dunstanburgh Castle, on the Northumbrian English coast. The castle was built by Earl Thomas of Lancaster in 1313as a military stronghold and possibly, from the grandness of its scale, as a symbol of his opposition to the reigning English monarch Edward II (against whom he would lead a failed rebellion that ended with his execution in 1322). The castle passed to John of Gaunt at the end of the fourteenth century, at which time the twin towers were converted to a keep and an inner and outer bailey were constructed to strengthen the castle’s position as a fortress. It was also twice besieged and captured by Yorkists during the fifteenth-century Wars of the Roses. For more on Dunstanburgh Castle, see the English Heritage website:


Turner, Joseph Mallord William


National Gallery of Victoria




National Gallery of Victoria


Oil on canvas, 92.2 x 123.2cm;

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