Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dawn Over Jura; Finlaggan Castle and Farm Buildings, Islay; and Dun Sgathaich Castle, Skye


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 125 x 201 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXX 62 a

Catalogue entry

Two of the sketches on this page were made on the island of Islay, Inner Hebrides. Drawn across the top half of the page (with the fore-edge of the page at the top) is a sketch of the island of ‘Jura’ with the Paps at the right, which Turner has annotated with notes concerning light and colour. Drawn either from the Sound of Islay, or from the island of Islay itself, the view looks east towards the island and the sun (inscribed ‘yellow’) is reflected in the water of the Sound, indicating that this is a dawn scene as in folio 76 (D26586). Other inscriptions read ‘Dark’, ‘cold’ (a description Turner uses for colour or tone occasionally; e.g. Tate D26590; Turner Bequest CCLXV 27), and what may be ‘Cyp’, referring to the artist Aelbert Cuyp (1620–91) Turner associated Cuyp with dawn subjects, often inscribing his name to indicate a Cuypian scene, including on a sketch made earlier in the tour (Tate D25737; Turner Bequest CCLXV 53).1 Turner has also inscribed numbers above the sketch (‘2 4 1 4 | 1 0 2 1 2’) which probably represent colours of tones according to his own system. There is another sketch of hills above this which is probably a continuation of the same sketch, or a second sketch of the same view. (For further views of Jura with the Paps, see folio 74; D26582).
Drawn parallel with the gutter of the page, and with the sketchbook inverted, is a sketch that has been identified as Finlaggan Castle on Islay (see folio 70 verso; D26575 for further references).2 As David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan point out, Turner must have climbed the slopes behind a farm to the east of Loch Finlaggan to make this small sketch with farm buildings in the foreground.
On a later occasion, when visiting the Isle of Skye, Turner used the empty space at the foot of the page, with the sketchbook inverted from the conventional orientation, for a sketch of Dun Sgathaich Castle (also called Dun Scaith and other variations) near Tokavaig at the west of the Sleat peninsula. Although most of the ruins in Turner’s sketch are no longer extant, the shape of the rock on which it stands suggests that this is a view from Gauskaviag Bay to the south, as suggested by David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan.3 For further information and references to other sketches of the castle see folio 87 verso (D26608).

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

A. [‘Fred’] H.G. Bachrach, ‘Aelbert Cuyp’, Evelyn Joll, Martin Butlin and Luke Herrmann (eds.), The Oxford Companion to J.M.W. Turner, Oxford 2001, pp.69–70.
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner Round the Clyde and Islay – 1831’, 1991, Tate catalogue files, folio 9.
David Wallace–Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on the Isle of Skye 1831’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folio 14].

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like