Joseph Mallord William Turner

Moubray House and John Knox House, Netherbow, Edinburgh; and a Coastline


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 x 181 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVIII 19

Catalogue entry

This sketch depicts Moubray House (to the left) and John Knox House (at the centre) on Netherbow on Edinburgh’s High Street. Further down the street is the Canongate Tolbooth (see folio 19 verso; D26131). The houses are two of the oldest buildings in Edinburgh, and both have strong historic and literary associations. Daniel Defoe apparently once lived at Moubray House, and Turner’s inscription at the top left of the sketch suggests that he was aware of the adjacent house’s association with the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformer ‘John Knox’ (1510–1572); the inscription is repeated on folio 2 (D26097).
Turner has indicated the inscription above the doorway of the John Knox House, but has not attempted to transcribe the old Scots. He also labelled the sundial at the corner of the house ‘light’. There is another sketch of the house on folio 18 verso (D26129).
Drawn at the right-hand side of the page, with the sketchbook turned to the left, is a sketch of a coastline. The inscription ‘Enb’ may stand for Edinburgh, making this a view of Leith from the Firth of Forth. This sketch continues slightly on folio 18 verso.
There is a small brown stain at the bottom right of the page.

Thomas Ardill
November 2010

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