Arundel Castle with Rainbow William Turner Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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William Turner produced a number of paintings of castles across the UK and would often completed several artworks within a single visit. This piece dates from 1824–5.

In this composition we find the castle set at the back of the scene, atop a large mound. A wide river ambles through the painting and in the near side we see a number of local people going about their lives. Some are fishing, whilst others are using the river to transport goods. There is a beautiful mill to the left hand side and a rainbow then sweeps through the centre of the scene. A number of people and animals are then dotted about in the background in order to add some level of activity to an otherwise tranquil setting. There are tones of blue and green throughout the painting, as well as some sandier tones which provide contrast against the green grass.

The artist was a master of light and landscape painting, inspiring a whole plethora of skilled artists who followed on afterwards. Even the magical impressionists who innovated in ways never seen before were followers of his, particularly Monet who travelled to the UK to study many of his paintings. Turner has become perhaps the most respected artist from this country, and his reputation has become strong in mainland Europe and the US too. This piece is owned by the Tate, and is one of a number of paintings bequethed by the artist to them upon his death. It was completed using watercolours, a medium which has proven particularly popular within the UK in centuries past.

The artist also produced Arundel Castle, on the River Arun, which was another watercolour from the same year and tackles the castle from a completely different angle. In that example, he stands at the top of a large hill, looking down on both the castle and also the river, which weaves its merry way into the distance, far below his own viewpoint. The castle itself is believed to have been home to the Dukes of Norfolk at the time of the artist's visit. It is predominantly made of stone as was initially built during the rule of William the Conqueror in order to protect the strategic position of River Arun. The rainbow that arcs across the centre of the painting will remind some of a piece by John Constable, Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows. Few artists would use a rainbow as dominantly as this, but Turner is attempting to celebrate the beauty of the castle with this elaborate flourish.