Joseph Mallord William Turner

Skiddaw, From South of Derwentwater

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: 74 x 94 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D25610
Turner Bequest CCLXIV 44 a

Catalogue entry

This sketch of Skiddaw in the Lake District, drawn with the book inverted and continuing very slightly onto folio 45 (D25611), was made in connection to Turner’s design for the frontispiece to volume 11 (The Bridal of Triermain) of Walter Scott’s Poetical Works: Skiddaw circa 1832 (watercolour, whereabouts unknown).1 The inscription across the mountain on the present page, ‘Skiddaw’, the general shape of the mountain and the bay in the foreground all match with the final design, although Turner managed to remember more of the right side of the lake than he actually drew. The design, however, is more closely based on a more detailed drawing in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border sketchbook: Tate D25800 (Turner Bequest CCLXVI 20a).
While Finberg’s wrote that this view was from Lake Bassenthwaite, David Hill has recognised the Minstrelsy sketch as a view from the south of Derwentwater near the Lodore boat landing.2 The shape of Skiddaw fits with Hill’s identification of a view from the south much better than Finberg’s suggestion, especially in the final design (where the two peaks match Skiddaw’s main peak at the left and the peak known as ‘Little Man’ to the right). The engraving also indicates the foot of Castlerigg Fell with Barrow Bay at the right of the lake and Derwent Island in the middle distance.
Turner made a similar view of Skiddaw and Derwentwater in 1797 in the Tweed and Lakes sketchbook (Tate D01079; Turner Bequest XXXV 77), though from Grange Fell about a mile away to the south. This sketch may have informed the appearance of Skiddaw in the Scott design.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

1
Wilton 1979, p.429 no.1090.
2
David Hill, Turner in the North: A Tour through Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland, the Scottish Borders, the Lake District, Lancashire and Lincolnshire in the Year 1797, New Haven and London 1996, p.108; and email correspondence with David Hill, 30 March 2009, Tate catalogue files.

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