Joseph Mallord William Turner

A Vessel; Roslin Castle; and Sketches of ‘New Town’

1818

Not on display
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 90 x 112 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D13576
Turner Bequest CLXVI 65 a

Catalogue entry

There are three sketches on this page, all made with the sketchbook inverted, or turned to the left or right. With the book inverted is a study of a ship with three overlapping sails. Turner made numerous studies of boats in this sketchbook including diagrammatical drawings like this one (for example, folio 5 verso; D13458), and more spontaneous sketches of boats at sail, tipping in the wind with their sails billowing out (folios 10 verso–11; D13468–D13469). Judging by the large size of this vessel, Turner is likely to have seen it at Leith Harbour, Edinburgh’s main port, which he also sketched in this sketchbook (folio 64 verso; D13574; CLXVI 64a).
With the sketchbook turned to the left is a view of Roslin Castle. Turner made numerous sketches of the castle in preparation for his watercolour of the subject to illustrate Scott’s Provincial Antiquities: Roslin Castle, circa 1820 (Indianapolis Museum of Art).1 This sketch concentrates on the East Range with the ruins of the keep at the left and the gatehouse at the right, and is therefore close to the view that Turner selected for his final design (Tate D13704; Turner Bequest CLXVII 66).
Finally, with the sketchbook turned to the right there is a small and rough sketch of several buildings and a landscape beyond. The inscription beneath is likely to refer to the ‘New Town’ area of Edinburgh which was developed towards the end of the eighteenth century following the plans of the architect, James Craig. The inscription may either refer to the sketch above, or perhaps to the sketches of architectural features on the opposite page (folio 65; D13577).2

Thomas Ardill
January 2008

1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.426 no.1065.
2
Folio 45 verso; D13538 is also inscribed ‘New Town’, although here Turner is referring to the village of Newton, rather than the Georgian development in north Edinburgh.

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