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The sketches on this page were made on Turner’s journey from Tobermory on Mull to the Isle of Staffa. A letter from the artist to James Lenox in 1845 tells us that Turner made the journey in a steamboat, the Maid of Morven,1 and that he was also due to visit the island of Iona but that the rough weather prevented it.2 The journey is recorded over the following pages: folios 8 verso, 9, 18 verso–22 verso, 24 verso, 27 verso–30 verso, 34 verso, 35, 39 and 40–43 (D26760, D26861, D26777–D26785, D26788, D26794–D26800, D26806, D26807, D26815, D26817–D26823).
The present page carries sketches made around the northern mouth of the Sound of Mull. The two sketches drawn across the top half of the page look north towards the coast of Ardnamurchan, as Turner’s inscription tells us. At the very top of the page the sketch gives a wide sweep of the Arnamurchan coast, while the sketch beneath shows the cliffs around Arnamurchan Point from close up to the south-east.3
There are two further sketches drawn with the book inverted. One shows a headland which may be Treshnish Point as sketched on folios 41 verso and 42. The other sketch is of a distant island that has not been identified.
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan’s research into steamboat travel around the Western Isles of Scotland raises the interesting point that the Maid of Morven, a small 52-ton steamboat, was listed in the Steamboat Companion of 1831 as plying a service on the Caldeonian Canal, and that there are no services listed as operating a route between Tobermory and Iona. They suggest that the trip from Tobermory to Staffa and Iona was an ‘extra assignment’. (David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on Mull and Staffa’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folio 4]).
John Gage, Collected Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner with an Early Diary and a Memoir by George Jones, Oxford 1980, pp.209–10 letter 288, Turner to James Lenox, 16 August 1845.
Identified by Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan [circa 1991], [folio 4].