Joseph Mallord William Turner

Haddington Church; and ‘Gifford’ with ?Yester Castle


Not on display
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 185 x 113 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVII 46

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned to the left at the bottom of the page is a sketch of the east window of Haddington Church. There are further sketches of Haddington on folios 22, 44 and 45 verso (D25966, D26000, D26003; CCLXVII 22, 44, 45a).
The inscription on this page probably reads ‘Gifford’, and either refers to the village of Gifford which is about four and a half miles south of Haddington, or to Sir Hugo de Gifford of Yester Castle. Turner had planned to visit the castle,1 and may have done so on the way to or from Haddington. This may be the structure seen at the centre of the upper sketch, presumably with Gifford Water or Hopes Burn in the foreground. Little of the castle remained in Turner’s day, and perhaps less stands today. Although the ruin was not on the artist’s itinerary of views to illustrate for Scott’s Poetical Works, it did have relevance to Sir Walter, who wrote about the castle and Sir Hugo de Gifford – or the ‘Wizard of Yester’ – in his poem Marmion (canto III).
There is another reference to ‘Gifford’ on folio 90 verso of this sketchbook (D26093; CCLXVII 92a), above a sketch that may show the ruins of the castle.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Robert Cadell, ‘Abbotsford Diary’, Thursday 11 August 1831, National Library of Scotland, MS Acc.5188, Box 1, folio 111 verso; transcribed in Gerald E. Finley, ‘J.M.W. Turner and Sir Walter Scott: Iconography of a Tour’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol.31, 1972, p.385.

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like