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This is one of several sketches that Turner made of the interior of Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa (also folios 27 verso–29 verso, 30 verso; D26794–D26798, D26800). The cave entrance is at the left with a horizontal line across it indicating the horizon; there is a similar sketch on folio 29. Having only an hour on the island,1 and standing at this point on a narrow ledge of broken basalt columns, it is not surprising that Turner made his sketches of the cave quite quickly. However, the rough sketches accurately capture the appearance of the cave with its striated walls made up of basalt columns, which are indicated in the sketches by vertical lines with circles for the top of columns. Therefore all of these sketches (but especially 29 and 29 verso) contributed towards Turner’s watercolour of the cave, which was engraved as a vignette to illustrate the Lord of the Isles volume of Sir Walter Scott’s Poetical Works: Fingal’s Cave, Staffa circa 1833–4 (whereabouts unknown).2
For a full list of Turner’s sketches of the Isle of Staffa and Fingal’s Cave, see folio 40 (D26817).
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After Joseph Mallord William Turner Fingal’s Cave, Staffa, engraved by Edward Goodall