JWM Turner, the great painter, came to the North for the first time in 1797. The eight-week trip, during which he covered a thousand miles, had a formative influence on his early career. It seems, in fact, to have changed him from a student into a painter.
He walked his twenty miles a day via Barnard Castle, Durham and Finchale to North Shields, then by way of Tynemouth and Bothal Castle (two sketches) to Alnwick (three), Warkworth (five), Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh. Dunstanburgh, which he almost always sketched at dawn, was a huge inspiration for Turner. He also painted, like Girtin, on Holy Island, then in Berwick and at Norham Castle.
Turner's great painting of Norham Castle, Sunrise of 1845, is now established as one of the icons of the Tate Gallery collection. It seems to look forward to the abstractions of our own century.
In 1831 Turner re-visited Norham and doffed his hat and bowed towards the castle to acknowledge that his first painting of the subject had founded his fortune.