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J M W Turner’s Castle in Wales

“Conway Castle, North Wales” as Painted by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1798)

Back in 1976, I visited Britain after making some money selling a script idea. One of the places I stayed was Betws-y-Coed, from which I could visit several beauty spots in North Wales. One of them was Conwy [sic] Castle. I was elated to see at the Getty Center J M W Turner’s rendition of Conway Castle, which is what the English called it.

The Getty website describes the painting:

On a dramatic, rocky area of the northern coast of Wales looms the late medieval Conway Castle. It towers over a stormy bay while fisherman struggle to pull their boats ashore. Caught in this uproaring of the sea, the tiny figures of fishermen in their boat convey a sense of humans’ barely significant place in the order of the universe.

The Welsh landscape exerted a strong hold on Joseph Mallord William Turner, and he made several sketching trips there in the 1790s. In this early Romantic painting, Turner represented the dramatic effects of natural light, allowing sunshine breaking through the clouds to illuminate the castle and the coast beyond.

The castle was built by Edward I—the evil king in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart played by Patrick McGoohan—between 1283 and 1287. It was one of a number of fortifications he built in his effort to subdue the Welsh. Here’s what it looks like today:

Conwy Castle Today