Joseph Mallord William Turner

Designs for the ‘Royal Progress’ Series


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 x 188 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook inverted, the inside back cover has been used for the continuation of a series of sketches that have been identified as making up an unrealised plan for a ‘Royal Progress’ series of paintings.1 The designs are numbered ‘1’–‘18’, and there is also an unnumbered nineteenth composition. Numbers ‘1’–‘6’ and ‘16’–‘18’ along with the final design are on folio 43 verso (D40979). (The entry for which also contains an introduction to the whole series; see also the George IV’s Visit to Edinburgh 1822 Tour Introduction for more information.)
The designs on this page begin at the top right with ‘7’ and follow right to left in the top row, continuing left to right until composition ‘15’ on the lower row.
Gerald Finley has tentatively identified composition ‘7’ as ‘The ceremony of the Regalia’ (see also Tate D17564; Turner Bequest CC 36). This was a ceremony that took place in Holyrood Palace shortly after George IV’s arrival on 15 August. While there is no arcading in the castle, Finley suggests that the arch shapes may be ‘gilded moulding’. However descriptions of the appearance of the chamber used as the throne room do not fit the appearance of this sketch. As Finley points out, Turner may have drawn the scene from his imagination, and as there are no sketches of the room or event from life this is certainly plausible. Alternative identifications are Finley’s suggestion of the receiving of the keys outside Holyrood (as in composition ‘6’) , the interior of St Giles’s as in composition ‘15’ and two sketches in the King’s Visit to Edinburgh sketchbook (Tate D17559; Turner Bequest CC 33a), or the supper room extension to the Assembly Rooms during the Peers’ Ball (see Tate D17585; Turner Bequest CC 47). The final two possibilities would, however, be out of chronological sequence.
Composition ‘8’ shows several figures, one kneeling at the left and several more standing with their backs to us at the right. Finley tentatively suggests that this may represent the Royal Levée which took place at Holyrood on 17 August, where the King sat enthroned, while presentations where made to him.2 Robert Mudie’s account explains: ‘In compliment to the country, his Majesty appeared in complete Highland costume, made of royal Stuart tartan, which displayed his manly and graceful figure to great advantage.’ Each member of the company, ‘on his name being announced, made his approach, knelt, kissed the hand of the King, and withdrew [...] about fifteen were presented in a minute.’3 Turner made no further sketches or studies of the event.

Thomas Ardill
November 2008

Finley 1981.
Ibid., p.34.
Robert Mudie’s, An Historical Account of His Majesty’s Visit to Scotland, Edinburgh 1822, p.132.
Finley 1981, p.34.
Ibid., pp.34–5.
Illustrated in Robert Mudie, An Historical Account of His Majesty’s Visit to Scotland, Edinburgh 1822
Finley 1981, p.35.
Butlin and Joll 1984, p.153 no.247.
Finley 1981, pp.35–7.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like