View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms
Typical of Turner’s sketchbook practice on this tour of Scotland, the inside covers of the Edinburgh sketchbook have been used for quick observations and visual and written notes. The sketches and notes here were perhaps made at an inn during Turner’s journey or stay in Edinburgh as they relate to food and deliveries. There are two carts, one at the top of the page with the inscription, ‘Cart of fish and coal’, and another with two women aboard at the left. There are two rows of jugs and ‘milk’ pales which may have been used to decant a delivery of milk from the cart. Similar objects are displayed in the foreground of the watercolours, Edinburgh High Street, circa 1818 (Yale Center for British Art),1 and Heriot’s Hospital, circa 1819 (National Gallery of Scotland),2 and may have derived from the objects observed in this sketch.
Another inscription refers to ‘Books’ with a ‘Red marble[d] edge’. At the bottom left of the page is a figure who is bent forward slightly as if pulling a cart, with an inscription perhaps referring to a ‘Blue’ item of clothing. Finally, a faint sketch at the bottom right, drawn with the page turned to the right, shows a landscape and may be inscribed ‘Dalkeith’, a town that Turner visited and sketched on this tour, and that was chosen as a subject for Scott’s Provincial Antiquities publication (though not illustrated by Turner).