Joseph Mallord William Turner

Edinburgh with the North Bridge and Castle


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

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 99 x 159 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXV 21 a

Catalogue entry

This drawing appears in the sketchbook between sketches of Dunbar, leading Finberg to misidentify it as ‘Ruins of Dunbar’.1 However, the view is actually of Edinburgh, with Edinburgh Castle indicated by Turner’s inscription. Since it was made from some distance, probably from Calton Hill or Arthur’s Seat, Turner was unable to make out many details of the castle, so simple drew Castle Rock and inscribed ‘castle’ on the rough shape on top; he made several detailed drawings of the castle from closer up in this and the Edinburgh, 1818 sketchbook.
Below the castle and slightly to the left are the arches of the North Bridge connecting the Old Town to the left and New Town to the right, and in front of that are some of the rooftops of the capital. The viewpoint is similar to that of Turner’s watercolour, Edinburgh from Calton Hill, circa 1819 (National Gallery of Scotland),2 and the sketches upon which it was based in the Scotch Antiquities sketchbook (Tate D13651–D13652; Turner Bequest CLXVII 39a–40). It is especially close to another, more fully worked sketch in this book (folio 61 verso; D13430; CLXV folio 59a).

Thomas Ardill
October 2007

Finberg 1909, I, p.479, CLXV 21a.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.426 no.1062.

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