Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 83 Verso:
Smailholm Tower 1831
Turner Bequest CCLXVII 85a
Turner Bequest CCLXVII 85a
Pencil on off-white wove writing paper, 113 x 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
A.J. Finberg, A Complete Inventory of the Drawings of the Turner Bequest, London 1909, vol.II, p.860, CCLXVII 85a, as ‘Smailholm Tower.’.
Gerald E. Finley, ‘J.M.W. Turner and Sir Walter Scott: Iconography of a Tour’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, vol.35, 1972, p.380 note 130.
Gerald Finley, Landscapes of Memory: Turner as Illustrator to Scott, London 1980, pp.109 reproduced pl.38, 110.
Dr Jan Piggott, Turner’s Vignettes, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1993, p.88.
Martin F. Krause, Turner in Indianapolis: The Pantzer Collection of Drawings and Watercolors by J.M.W. Turner and his Contemporaries at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis 1997, p.184 under cats.56 and 57.
Joanna Selborne, Andrew Wilton and Cecilia Powell, Paths to Fame: Turner Watercolours from The Courtauld Collection, exhibition catalogue, Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere 2008, pp.126, 127 note 7.
With the sketchbook inverted, this view of Smailholm Tower from across the millpond to the east formed the basis of Turner’s vignette illustration to John Gilbert Lockhart’s Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott: Sandy Knowe or Smailholm Tower circa 1838 (Vassar College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, New York).1
The sketched view has an almost horizontally symmetrical composition, with the crags at the top half of the image mirrored in the rocks and jagged outline of the water’s edge at the bottom half. Although altered in the watercolour, that picture similarly has a symmetrical composition which appears to be made up of two rough circles of light: at the top with the tower in the background and at the bottom with the water in the middle distance.
Gerald Finley has related the Lockhart vignette to a watercolour of the same subject that Turner made as a gift to Scott in 1832 – Smailholm Tower and Sandyknowe Farm 1832 (Courtauld Gallery, London) – drawing attention to its compositional similarity, and to the shared theme of Scott’s life (Scott appears as a child in the former and with Turner in the latter).2 However, while the Lockhart vignette may have been inspired by the gift vignette, it was not (as Finley suggests) based upon it, as it clearly derives from the present sketch, though with foreground details taken from the bottom sketch on folio 81 verso (D26075; CCLXVII 83a).
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