Completed British 19th C, except portraits, Maritime Subjects, South East England: Artists and Subjects 32 Is this castle on a cliff identifiable?

Topic: Subject or sitter

Does anyone have any ideas to where this painting could be set?

Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Entry reviewed by Art UK

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Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The title of this painting has been changed to ‘Dunluce Castle, County Antrim’. More information about the location has been added to the artwork description field. The painting is now catalogued as British School, 19th Century.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Marian Wood 01,

At first sight I thought it could be an imaginary reconstruction of Tintagel Castle with the church on the hill behind (now it looks more like a lighthouse). But that would not explain the land? on the far left.

Michael Long,

Looks to me like Dunnottar, near Aberdeen

Fiona Clai Brown,

West Wales -Looks like Harlech to me-looking southwards-towards Cardigan Bay -the castle rock a little over dramatised and some artistic licence: Land on far right could be the Lleyn Peninsular .

Martin Hopkinson,

not Dunottar - the land on the right rules it out

Sophia Conner,

It looks like Dunluce Castle on the coast of Antrim, Northern Ireland. The ruins and the rock formation of the penisula are very similar. Compare this late 19th century photo of Dunluce from a similar angle:

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Martin Hopkinson,

and does this make it likely that the artist is Irish?

Martin Hopkinson,

This view looking west was the preferred one among arists. The castle is, of course, very close to Giants' Causeway

Me too: but who was painting subjects in that area in watercolour in the mid-19th c.? Stanfield was there in September-October 1856 but it doesn't look obviously like him. Any sign of signature/inscription front or back, however illegible?

Marcie Doran,

For consideration, two artists who are associated with paintings of Dunluce Castle in the mid-19th c. as per articles in newspapers:

Charles Bentley (1808-1854). Articles from 1846 and 1853 are attached. See for example his “Mont St Michel” (1854)

William Gawin Herdman (also known as W. G. Herdman) (1805-1882). An article from 1841 is attached. See for example his “Sandstone Quarry at corner of Netherfield Road” (1848).

The work is mounted, framed and glazed so access to the back of the painting is not possible I am afraid. There is nothing on the backboard of the frame either.

Thanks. Interesting to see Charles Bentley - a fine watercolourist (1806-54)- had a track-record there, albeit neither of the subjects/treatments Marcie quotes fit, and it doesn't look like his more Turnerian style even taking fading damage into account. It also doesn't look like William George Herdman (1805-82) - mainly a Liverpool topographer.

The question asked here was the identity of the castle and the consensus seems to be that it is Dunluce, Co. Antrim -or at least 'probably Dunluce' - for which the second image attached by Michael Hurman, 04/09/2021 17:36, provides the best general corroboration -including the presence of coastline to the right.

Can we agree that much at least?

I good hi-res of just the castle was posted right at the start, but one of the whole thing might help further thought on the artist. Even if the discussion closes as inconclusive on that front it will then be accessible to return to at a later stage.

Kieran Owens,

It is definitely Dunluce Castle. The gable end of the ruin behind the castle is that of a small church, which is situated in an enclosed site, the long wall of which can be seen in the attached composite. This is the same place, though looking at the castle from the direction of the enclosure:

If this evidence is accepted the artwork could justifiably and straightforwardly be titled "Dunluce Castle, County Antrim".

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Thanks Kieran: that appears to remove any element of doubt, albeit some artistic liberties have been taken.

A full-image hi-res would still be useful to mull on the artist problem, irrespective of whether the location discussion is now closed or left on the active list.

Kieran Owens,

The hills in the distance to the right of the painting would be those of the Inishowen peninsula in Co. Donegal, where Greencastle Cove leads up through Shrove to Malin Head.

Kieran Owens,

It looks, on my screen, as if the initials JM are painted on the sail of the little boat to the left in the painting (see attached). If so, these could be the artist's initials or could be the initials of the home port from which the boat has sailed. They are, as a guess, more likely to be the former. If so, does anyone know of a watercolour painted with such initials?

To be certain that I am not hallucinating, could a hi-res of this area be posted?

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Kieran Owens,

David, many thanks. Alas, the image is very pixelated so I cannot now see what I think I saw in my previously attached extract. By taking a better photograph or, by way of a more careful examination of the work, could the collection check to see if the suggested initials are present?

I am happy for the title to change if there is consensus, which there seems to be, for the location to be Dunluce Castle, County Antrim.

Unfortunately we don't have a higher resolution image of the painting than the one posted on the Art UK website. I will try to access the painting when I can to examine the sail and post up a better image when I can.

I am happy to conclude this discussion on the basis that the subject is firmly established as Dunluce Castle. The identity of the artist is, I suspect, unlikely to be confirmed on the basis of this image alone, and strictly speaking should be the subject of a separate discussion, if worthwhile.

Though this discussion has been formally closed, the box is (quite literally) not yet ticked on the matter. The question asked was location only, and resolved. As Andrew Gregg pointed out @ 07/04/2022 11:25, identifyng the artist should be a separate discussion, though probably unproductive given that suggestions already made have led nowhere.

We have a bug here. David Saywell closed the discussion using the correct procedure, but it is still showing open. A ticket has been sent to IT.