Joseph Mallord William Turner King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen 1831

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Artwork details

King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen
From Inverness Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CCLXXVII
Date 1831
Medium Graphite on paper
Dimensions Support: 163 x 104 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXVII 42 a
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

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

Finberg 1909, II, p.883.
Irwin, Wilton, Finley and others 1982, p.55.
‘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.
Irwin, Wilton, Finley and others 1982, p.55.

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