Joseph Mallord William Turner

The Procession to Edinburgh Castle with the Regalia Seen from the Royal Palace

1822

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 114 x 187 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17604
Turner Bequest CC 56 a

Catalogue entry

This is the most finished of a series of drawings of Edinburgh from the castle made in connection to the procession with the Regalia on 22 August 1822 (see folio 36 verso; D17565). The view made with the sketchbook inverted and continuing slightly on folio 57 (D17605) is very close to the sketch on folio 54 verso (D17600) but was made from a more elevated vantage point, probably the King’s lodgings in the Royal Palace as Gerald Finley has suggested.1
We look down on the parapet of the Half Moon Battery in the foreground at the bottom of the sketch and across the Esplanade where the stands for the ‘navy’ and other troops, member of public bodies and spectators have been indicated (see folio 36 verso for further details). A straight line leads up the Royal Mile with the spires of St Giles’s and the Tron Kirk carefully drawn at the right and the dome of the Bank of Scotland head office at the left. Hills at the left and right frame the city and composition which is structured as an ‘x’ with diagonal lines following the sides of the Esplanade and the slopes of the hills, and with St Giles’s at the intersection.
Calton Hill is at the left, with Nelson’s Monument at its summit, the Royal Observatory to its left and Calton Gaol below. Beneath the hills is North Bridge, and beneath that along the Mound is a row of short dashes and dots which may be inscribed ‘Garth Lothian Reg[iment]’,2 one of the regiment of troops lining the route of the procession (in this case the return to Holyrood). Arthur’s Seat is at the right with what may be Heriot’s Hospital school below. The profile of the hill continues on folio 55 verso (D17602).
While there is an abundance of architectural and topographical detail in the sketch, Turner’s drawing exhibits great economy. Buildings and landscape are depicted in line alone with no shading, although the weight of the line is subtly varied to give body and depth. Shading is used only for the foliage of trees which might otherwise be confusing. Most attention is paid to the centre of the composition, with the homes and hills at the periphery being faintly indicated in outline. Turner uses step-shapes to indicate the rooflines of houses around the Grassmarket at the right.

Thomas Ardill
September 2008

1
Finley 1981, p.84
2
A squadron of Midlothian Yeomanry headed the procession, and the Royal Mile was lined with various dragoons and cavalry which may account for the Lothian Part of Turner’s inscription. If the first word is indeed ‘Garth’ (the writing is not clear) then it presumably refers to John Stuart of Garth who commanded the Highland body of ‘Celtic Gentlemen’ who followed the Yeomen and Scots Greys in the procession. See Robert Mudie, An Historical Account of His Majesty’s Visit to Scotland, Edinburgh 1822, pp.194–200.

Read full Catalogue entry

You might like