Joseph Mallord William Turner

Callander, Main Street


View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 119 x 184 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXII 39 a

Catalogue entry

Turner visited Callander, where he perhaps stayed for several days during a ten-day excursion from Edinburgh, as part of a longer Scottish tour in 1834; see Tour of Scotland for Scott’s Prose Works 1834 Tour Introduction. The town was by the 1830s well established as the gateway to the Trossachs, which had been popularised for tourist travel by the publication in 1811 of Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake. David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, who identified Turner’s sketches of Callander, suggest that ‘it is possible that he used the town as a centre from which he covered the Trossachs [...]. We may assume that he would have been in and out of Callander frequently during these few days of sketching the Trossachs.’1
Sketches of the town itself are not grouped together in this sketchbook, but dispersed throughout it. While this may suggest that Turner sketched the town on several different occasions, the similarity of the subjects makes this less likely. Furthermore, the correct order and original state of this sketchbook is too uncertain to draw many conclusions from the order of sketches; see Loch Ard sketchbook Introduction.
The present sketch shows a view up to the Main Street from the River Teith, with the Parish Church at the left. The street runs left to right parallel with the picture plane, and the church, which can be seen in Turner’s other sketches of the town, was rebuilt in 1883.2 The buildings in the foreground have also been replaced. Behind them to the right are the mountains north of Callander.
Further sketches of the town are on folios 19, 20 verso and 37 verso (D26705, D26699, D26686; CCLXXII 21a, 18, 11). Turner made two sketches at Callander in the Stirling and Edinburgh sketchbook (Tate D26326; Turner Bequest CCLXIX 34a), and a sketch in the Stirling and the West sketchbook is inscribed ‘Calendr’ (Tate D26561; Turner Bequest CCLXX 63a).
Two of Turner’s shorter excursions from Callander were to see waterfalls. He walked north-west to Kilmahog and onto the Pass of Leny to see the Falls of Leny. During his two-mile outward journey (or perhaps on his return) he stopped at fairly regular intervals to sketch the view towards Ben Ledi. The sequence of sketches were made in roughly the following order: folios 41 verso, 42, 19 verso, 20, and 37–34 (D27771, D26670, D26704, D26700, D26687, D26697, D26698, D26689, D26690, D26691, D26692; CCLXXII 3, 2a, 21, 18a, 11a, 17, 17a, 13, 13a, 14, 14a).

Thomas Ardill
November 2010

Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan 1990, Vol.10 No.2, p.26.
‘Callander, Ancaster Square, St Kessog’s Church’, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, accessed 3 November 2010, .

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