Joseph Mallord William Turner

Traquair House, Innerleithen; and Margate from the Sea


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 111 x 181 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVIII 17 a

Catalogue entry

This study of Traquair House was made from the driveway (inscribed Dr’ for drive and ‘p’ for path) to the south-west of the property, and is paired with a sketch from the opposite side on folio 16 verso (D26125). There is also a series of sketches of Innerleithen and nearby views, some of which include the house, on folios 14 verso–18 (D26121–D26128).
The four storey L-shaped twelfth-century house is seen here from the main approach. The study is detailed, though economical, with Turner’s usual parallel dashes for windows. In front of the building is the wrought-iron screen flanked by matching pavilions built by James Smith in 1695.1 What looks like a tower or spire at the right of the main building is revealed in old photographs to be a narrow chimney. Turner has labelled this feature ‘3’.
Traquair House was built as a hunting lodge in the heart of the Ettrick Forrest, and is apparently the oldest continually inhabited house in Scotland.2 In addition to the historic interest, Turner is likely to have included the house in his tour of the Scottish Borders during 2 and 3 October 1834, because of its connection to Sir Walter Scott. Turner had been commissioned to prepare illustrations to new editions of Scott’s collected Prose Works and Waverley Novels, as well as J.G. Lockhart’s forthcoming Life of Scott. The house is thought to have been the basis for the manor house at Tully-Veolan in Scott’s novel Waverley, 1814, so it is likely that Turner made this sketch as the basis for a possible illustration to that work. Another connection is revealed by an engraving of this same view executed to illustrate Scott’s introductory essay to the Border Antiquities, 1814. In the late nineteenth century the house was also used by the artist George Reid as the model for the fictional Shaws Castle to illustrate Scott’s novel St Ronan’s Well, which is set in the area.3 A similar view, engraved by William Millar after William Brown, had also been published in 1830 in Select Views Of The Royal Palaces Of Scotland.

Thomas Ardill
January 2011

‘A Brief History of Traquair and the Family’, Traquair House Website, accessed 17 December 2010, <>.
‘Traquair House’, Undiscovered Scotland, accessed 17 December 2010, <>.
Six Engravings in Illustration of St. Ronan’s Well for the Members of the Royal Association for Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland, Edinburgh 1882, pl.1 engraving by Thomas Brown after George Reid, Shaws Castle (Traquair House, with Gateway). The same image by George Reid was etched again by Henry Macbeth-Raeburn as the frontispiece to ‘St Ronan’s Well’, Waverley Novels [Border Edition], vol.XXXIV, London 1894.

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