Dolbadarn Castle

Image credit: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales

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‘Dolbadarn Castle’ by J. M. W. Turner is an important composition because it represents a long period of study of the Welsh landscape. Turner became fascinated with North Wales and particularly studied the history of the slaughter of the bards by Edward I and the tragic infighting resulting in the long captivity of Owain Goch (Owain the Red), by his own brother. Both subjects inspired some of his most poignant paintings. This small oil painting shows the dramatic moment in 1255 when Owain was lead to the tower of Dolbadarn, which became his prison for over 20 years. Turner emphasises the steep cliffs up to the castle, greatly exaggerating their scale and avoiding any reference to Snowdon mountain or the valley and lakes adjacent. The paint is a wonderful combination of loose, thin washes together with deep swathes of dark colour symbolising the pathos of the scene.

Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales



Dolbadarn Castle




oil on panel


H 45.5 x W 30 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased with the assistance of the National Art Collections Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund from Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, 1998

Work type



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Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales

Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 3BU Wales

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