Joseph Mallord William TurnerThe Grassmarket, Edinburgh 1818

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Artwork details

The Grassmarket, Edinburgh
From Scotch Antiquities Sketchbook
Turner Bequest CLXVII
Date 1818
MediumGraphite on paper
Dimensionssupport: 112 x 186 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXVII 62 a
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Catalogue entry

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Folio 65 Verso:
The Grassmarket, Edinburgh 1818
Turner Bequest CLXVII 62a
Pencil on white wove paper, 112 x 186 mm
Inscribed in pencil by Turner, building at left: ‘B[...]k’; top floor ‘one [?]shops’; third floor: ‘Grass’, ‘B[...]’; right of arched doorway: ‘Murray [?]Crmton’ | ?‘Grocer’; below windows at left: ?‘Brothers’; above doors at right: ‘Out’, ‘In’; beneath plaque shape: ‘W Ross Red’, beneath oval shape: ‘Through [?]Post BDW off yellow’
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner made sketches of Edinburgh’s Grassmarket in anticipation of painting The Castle from the Grassmarket for Scott’s Provincial Antiquities, although A.W. Callcott was actually commissioned to make the illustration which was engraved by Henry Le Keux with figures engraved by George Cooke for the fourth number of the publication.
While a sketch in the Bass Rock and Edinburgh sketchbook shows the view above the tenements towards Edinburgh Castle (Tate D13410; Turner Bequest CLXV 49a), the present sketch concentrates on the buildings on the north side of the street. These are inscribed with various notes referring to the buildings’ uses or to shop signs including a red rectangular sign bearing the name ‘W Ross’ and a yellow oval with the words ‘Through [?]Post Bdw’. At the right are two doors with signs above saying ‘Out’ and ‘In’. These may be the entrance and exit to the ‘English School’ on the corner of the Grassmarket and West Bow that Turner drew in this sketchbook (folio 75; D13744; CLXVII 86).

Thomas Ardill
March 2008

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