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Turner visited Bothwell on during a ten-day tour that started in Lanarkshire. Having dined with John Gibson Lockhart at his family home, Milton Lockhart at Rosebank on the River Clyde, the previous night, Turner spent the 19 September visiting sites in Lanarkshire. Bothwell was probably his last stop before heading north-west to Glasgow. See Tour of Scotland for Scott’s Prose Works 1834 Tour Introduction. The order of Turner’s sketches suggest that having alighted at the town of Bothwell, he proceeded straight to the castle before returning to Bothwell Bridge to make sketches there.
Turner had visited Bothwell in 1801 when he made sketches of the castle in the Scotch Lakes sketchbook (Tate D02927–D02984; D02992–D03276; D41240–D41249; D41411; complete; Turner Bequest LVI). In 1834 he returned to sketch the site of the Battle of Bothwell Bridge (1679), which featured as a major incident in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Old Mortality (1816), one of the novels that Turner had been commissioned by Robert Cadell to illustrate.1
This is Turner’s first sketch of the castle and it depicts the round south-east tower as seen from the west. There is a path in the foreground and to the right is the River Clyde. The sketch is slight but fairly certain, and Turner has noted the principal architectural details of the castle, and made an effort to distinguish individual trees, rather than just massing them together. There is a very similar view, though from a slightly different viewpoint, on the reverse of this page, folio 26 (D26310).
Turner made more close-up studies of the castle from the west (folios 27, 27 verso; D26311, D26312), the south (folio 27 verso; D26312), the south-west (folio 28; D26313) and the south-east (folio 28 verso, 29; D26374, D26315) before following the Clyde south towards Bothwell Bridge, sketching as he went (folios 29 verso–30 verso and 34; D26316–D26318, D26325). At Bothwell Bridge he made a number of sketches: folios 31–33 verso (D26319–D26323).
Several previous editions of Old Mortality had also been illustrated with engravings of Bothwell Castle and Bridge, most recently in Charles Tilt’s Landscape Illustrations of the Waverley Novels, with Descriptions of the Views, 2 vols, London 1832, which included an engraving of Bothwell Bridge by William Finden after David Roberts (vol.1 facing p.23) and one of Bothwell Castle by Edward Frances Finden after Ramsay Richard Reinagle (vol.1 facing p.24). Cadell noted in his diary that he had gone through the illustrations in this book in preparation to meeting Turner to discuss illustration for his proposed new edition of the Waverley Novels (Robert Cadell, Diary, 21 August 1834, National Library of Scotland, MS21024, folio 37.) He is likely to have shown this volume to Turner when they met to discus the illustration on 15, 16 and 17 September 1834. Although Turner did not in the event produce any illustrations for Cadell’s new edition, the ‘Abbotsford edition’ of the Waverley Novels was illustrated with an engraving of Bothwell Bridge, but by William Richardson after Clarkson Stanfield: Waverley Novels [Abbotsford edition], vol.II, Edinburgh 1843, facing p.589.