Joseph Mallord William Turner

Gylen Castle, Kerrera from the West

1831

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

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 116 x 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D26865
Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 63 a

Catalogue entry

Gylen Castle is depicted here as a rectangular tower almost disguised as one of the cliffs and rocks on the southern coast of Kerrera. The view is from a high point to the west of the castle, probably from one of the hills near Ardmore, which Turner must have walked over to reach Barnabuck on the west coast of the island (see folio 62 verso; D26863). Beyond the castle is the promontory at the south-east tip of the island, with the Argyll mainland around Gallanach in the distance across the Firth of Lorn. In the foreground we look down upon the bay of Port a’ Chaisteil.
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan claim this was Turner’s first view of the castle, made ‘from a high point as he came within sight of it’.1 However, it is equally plausible that this was in fact his final sketch of the castle. Considering that the Staffa sketchbook can be read fairly consistently from the back to the front as Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan themselves point out,2 the sequence of sketches may instead begin on folio 75 verso, and continue backwards through the book to the present page (folios 63 verso–75 verso; D26865–D26889). Turner may therefore have arrived at the castle from the north, and sketched the castle as he walked around to the east and south, before making his way west along the coast and then north over the hills of Barnabuck. See folio 73 verso (D26885) for further details about Turner’s visit to Gylen Castle.
At the bottom of the page, drawn with the sketchbook inverted, is a sketch of the coast of Argyll as seen from the same location as the Gylen Castle sketch. The Argyll coast is also depicted in some of Turner’s other views of the castle (for example the lower sketch on folio 73 verso).

Thomas Ardill
February 2010

1
Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan 1991, p.27.
2
Ibid. p.20.

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