Joseph Mallord William Turner

Edinburgh, from St Anthony’s Chapel

1818

Not on display
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 99 x 159 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D13428
Turner Bequest CLXV 58 a

Catalogue entry

After drawing several views of Edinburgh from the eastern side of Arthur’s Seat, near St Anthony’s Chapel (folios 57–60 verso; D13421–D13429; CLXV 55–58a), Turner seems to have found a view worth devoting some time to with this drawing. In general the degree of detail and finish is much higher than the similar views, although he still saves time where possible: notably, the castle, sketched numerous times already in this sketchbook, is drawn in outline only.
Turner stands about halfway up the eastern side of Arthur’s Seat, which takes up much of the foreground and the left of the picture, with St Anthony’s Chapel at the bottom left. The Palace of Holyrood, is seen on the right with North Bridge behind it. In the centre of the drawing is Edinburgh Old Town with its various church spires, most notably, the open crown spire of St Giles’s Cathedral, and above it all is Edinburgh Castle.
It is possible that Turner was considering this view as an illustration for Scott’s Provincial Antiquities, although, in the end, the more popular view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill, circa 1819 (watercolour National Gallery of Scotland)1 was selected.

Thomas Ardill
November 2007

1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.426 no.1062.

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