Joseph Mallord William Turner

King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen

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: 163 x 104 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D27104
Turner Bequest CCLXXVII 42 a

Catalogue entry

Previously mis-identified as the spire of St Giles’s Cathedral in Edinburgh,1 this sketch has since been identified as the similar-looking open-crown spire of King’s College Chapel in Aberdeen.2 This identification, along with a sketch on folio 127 verso (D27197), proves that Turner visited Aberdeen during his 1831 tour of Scotland as he indicated he would in a letter to Edward Frances Finden sent from Oban on 2 September.3 The chapel is seen here from the College Bounds road to the west. It has been suggested that Turner made this sketch from a moving coach, as it is so scant in detail.4 The sketch continues slightly at the right onto two torn pages: folios 43 and 44 (D27105, D27106).

Thomas Ardill
May 2010

1
Finberg 1909, II, p.883.
2
Irwin, Wilton, Finley and others 1982, p.55.
3
‘P.S. Send one [letter] likewise to the Post Office Aberdeen by way of chance.’ ‘Turner to Edward Frances Finden’, 2 September 1831, John Gage, Collected Correspondence of J.M.W. Turner with an Early Diary and a Memoir by George Jones, Oxford 1980, pp.145–6 letter 172.
4
Irwin, Wilton, Finley and others 1982, p.55.

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