View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Turner visited Neidpath Castle on the River Tweed near Peebles on 2 October 1834; see Tour of Scotland for Scott’s Prose Works 1834 Tour Introduction. He was in the area to sketch sites for potential illustrations to new editions of Sir Walter Scott’s Prose Works and Waverley Novels, and for the projected biography of the poet by John Gibson Lockhart. Scott had visited the castle in 1803,1 and written the poem, The Maid of Neidpath. Turner had perhaps been asked for an illustration of the castle or the nearby area for Scott’s novel St Ronan’s Well; a later edition of the novel was illustrated with a view of Peebles and the River Tweed from Neidpath Castle.2 Turner may also have been interested in the castle’s connection to Mary Queen of Scots, who visited in 1563, though the visit was not a significant one.
Turner is likely to have arrived at Neidpath from Peebles to the east. Indeed a sketch of Peebles Bridge and Parish Church on folio 8 (D26109) includes the castle in the background. The sequence of sketches over the next nine pages records his approach to the castle from the east and his circuit anticlockwise around it: folios 5–7 verso and 8 verso–10 (D26103–D26108, D26110–D26113).3 He therefore sketched the castle from each side, recording its architecture in the round and its setting on the banks of the River Tweed. The current view of the castle is from the east with the path to the castle on the right and the river to the left. A close-up sketch on the reverse of this page depicts the castle from the east in more detail: folio 5 verso (D26104).
There are light brown stains across the right of this page.
Maurice Linday, The Castles of Scotland, Edinburgh 1993, pp.373–5.
William Miller after Peter Paton, Peebles and the Tweed, from Neidpath Castle, 1845, engraved for Sir Walter Scott, Saint Ronan’s Well, vol.VIII of The Waverley Novels [Abbotsford Edition] Edinburgh 1845, printed facing p.146.
Identified by David Wallace-Hadrill, ‘CCLXVIII “Edinburgh” 1831–34’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files.