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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 July 2005, 07:11 GMT 08:11 UK
Turner paintings returned 'home'
Turner, The Gatehouse of Denbigh Castle: colour study. (c) Tate, London 2005
The gatehouse of Denbigh Castle was the inspiration for this painting
A selection of Turner's art is returning to north Wales for the first time since it was painted there 200 years ago.

The exhibition of sketches and watercolour paintings is being held at Bodelwyddan Castle in Denbighshire.

JMW Turner visited the area on a tour in 1799, when he was 24, and painted a mixture of mountain views and castle landscapes.

The exhibition, which opened on Saturday, will run until September.

Morrigan Ellis, learning and curatorial officer at Bodelwyddan Castle, said there was pride and excitement about the exhibition, which is on loan from the Tate.

"It is a very big thing for us - it is the first time they have returned since they were created," she said.

Turner, Scene in the Welsh Mountains (c) Tate, London 2005
Turner was interested in the mix of light, cloud and mountains

During his visits to the area, she said Turner mostly painted "on the spot scenes of mountains and of Dolbadarn castle in Llanberis".

"He found the north Wales scenery particularly inspiring, with the way the light and cloud interacted with the mountainscapes," she said.

"It had a profound impact on the way he painted in the future.

"He was looking for that sense of excitement and beauty, and this is where he had that first kind of experience."

Turner was a regular visitor to Wales in the 1790s, when the French Revolutionary War made travel on the continent difficult, forcing British artists to explore scenery closer to home.

Castle focus

His first Welsh tour took place in 1792, when he visited south Wales, before his second trip saw him visit Flint and Denbigh in 1794.

He revisited south Wales in the following year, before a comprehensive tour in 1798 when he took in the Wye Valley, Cardigan, Aberystwyth, Snowdonia and Llangollen.

During the visits, he was particularly interested in Dolbadarn Castle in Llanberis, which provided the focus for several studies and paintings.

The exhibition at Bodelwyddan was first put together in 1999 to commemorate the anniversary of the 1799 tour, which was his last trip to Wales with the exception of a brief excursion in 1808.

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