View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Henry Crawford was the first to suggest tentatively that this sketch may depict Doune Castle on the River Teith near Stirling,1 a suggestion confirmed by David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan.2 Turner first saw the castle in 1801 when he made sketches in the Scotch Lakes sketchbook: Tate D03199–D03202 (Turner Bequest LVI 146 verso–148). In 1834 he passed it again, perhaps twice, on a ten-day tour as part of a longer visit to Scotland; See Tour of Scotland for Scott’s Prose Work 1834 Tour Introduction. There is a long series of studies of the castle in this sketchbook on folios 34 verso, 52 verso, 53, 59, 60 verso–61 verso–64 and 65 (D26326, D26358, D26359, D26371, D26373–D26380, D26382). The sequence records the artist’s approach to the castle, his circuit around it and visit to the interior, and his onward westerly journey west towards Callander. There are also several further sketches in the Loch Ard sketchbook: Tate D26742 and D26743 (Turner Bequest CCLXXII 40, 40a).
As well as its architecture and setting, Turner may have been interested in the castle’s significance to literature and history. As one of the locations in Sir Walter Scott’s first novel, Waverley, Or ’Tis Sixty Years Hence, 1814, it is possible that the castle was considered as a subject for Turner to illustrate for Robert Cadell’s proposed new edition of the Waverley Novels.3 One of his sketches of the castle is inscribed ‘W S’, a possible reference to Walter Scott: folio 62 verso (D26377).Turner may also have been interested in the castle’s connection to Mary Queen of Scots, who stayed there on several occasions; see Tour Introduction for more information.
The sketch on the present page begins the sequence made as Turner approached the castle with a view from the River Teith to the south. Turner’s river bank viewpoint is well selected as the trees at either side of the foreground frame the view beyond with the serpentine river and the castle clearly visible above the densely wooded riverbank.
Crawford 1936, p.27.
Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan 1990, Vol.10 No.1, p.2 and Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan 1990, Vol.10 No.2, p.29.
Doune Castle had previously been engraved as an illustration to Waverley by Edward Francis Finden after James Duffield Harding, Doune Castle, engraving, reproduced in Landscape Illustrations of the Waverley Novels, with Descriptions of the Views, 2 vols, London 1832; and James Skene, Doune Castle, etching, reproduced in A Series of Sketches of the Existing Localities alluded to in the Waverley Novels Etched from Original Drawings, Edinburgh 1829.