Joseph Mallord William Turner

Calton Hill and the Palace of Holyrood


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

Graphite on paper
Support: 99 x 159 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXV 58

Catalogue entry

This drawing from Arthur’s Seat, the edge of which is visible at the bottom right of the drawing, looks towards the Palace and Abbey of Holyrood, with Nelson’s Monument perched on Calton Hill above. Calton Gaol is shown to the left of the picture, and the Firth of Forth can just be seen in the distance behind Calton Hill. It is not certain whether the obscure sketch at the bottom right of the page is part of this drawing or a separate study.
There is something unnatural about this drawing, as if it were composed of separate parts like a collage. This effect is created by the use of several points of perspective, so while Holyrood Abbey is seen from above, the Palace looks like it is drawn from straight on, and Calton Hill from below. These main architectural and natural features are also drawn more heavily and with more detail than the surrounding landscape, making them look out of place.

Thomas Ardill
November 2007

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