J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours

Loch Ard sketchbook 1834

Turner Bequest CCLXXII
Sketchbook bound in modern dark-blue marbled covers with black leather corners and spine.
Originally sketchbook made by J.M.W. Turner from 42 leaves of unwatermarked off-white wove paper by an unknown maker. Rebound in 1964 with new covers and two additional fly-leaves by Edward Croft-Murray.
Approximate page size 119 x 184 mm (variable)
Numbered ‘203’ as part of the Turner Schedule in 1854 and endorsed by the executors of the Turner Bequest on folio 1 (D26667; CCLXXII 1).
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
This sketchbook was dated to 1831 by A.J. Finberg, who considered it to be one of the books that Turner used during his 1831 tour of Scotland.1 This date was initially followed in a study of Turner’s Scottish tours by Gerald Finley and in the research of David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan.2 However, both Finley and Wallace-Hadrill later revised these dates, with Wallace-Hadrill arguing that the book belonged to the 1834 tour, and Finley later suggesting that the book was used on both tours.3 The sketch is now know to be one of three books that Turner used on his 1834 visit to Scotland in September–October 1834, and can thus be placed in its proper context; see Tour of Scotland for Scott’s Prose Works 1834 Tour Introduction.
Turner’s 1834 tour of Scotland was undertaken at the behest of the publisher Robert Cadell to collect material for illustrations to Sir Walter Scott’s collected Prose Works, a proposed but unrealised new edition of the Waverley Novels, and for John Gibson Lockhart’s Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott. It was home-made by Turner from sheets that were folded and stitched together, and was used for just four or five days alongside the Stirling and Edinburgh sketchbook (D26259–D26435; D41047–D41049 complete; Turner Bequest CCLXIX).
Having arrived in Edinburgh on 14 or 15 September, Turner headed west to Lanarkshire on the 18th, touring the county before heading to Glasgow, and onto Stirling before turning west to Callander which he probably reached around 21 or 22 September. These sites are recorded in the Stirling and Edinburgh sketchbook. He first used the Loch Ard book at Callander, which was his base for a few days while he toured the Trossachs (Tate D26741; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 39a), and he continued using it on his journey east to Kinross and Perth. The original order of the sketches has been lost because the book was broken up and reconstructed (see Technical notes). There are therefore no clues to Turner’s exact route around the Trossachs, though the list of sketched locations suggests a number of possible excursions.
Assuming that Callander was the base for Turner’s exploration of the Trossachs, two short excursions from the town are fairly certain: a walk up the hill to the north to see the Bracklinn Falls, and a walk along the Pass of Leny to see the Falls of Leny and Ben Ledi, which he may have intended as an illustration to Sir Walter Scott’s novel, the Legend of Montrose, 1819 (see Tate D26741; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 39a). Other subjects are Loch Ard (Tate D26677; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 6) and Ledard Burn (Tate D26673; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 4), Aberfoyle (Tate D26679; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 7), the Duke’s Pass (D26679), Loch Katrine (Tate D26676; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 5a), the Brig o’ Turk (Tate D26683; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 9) and Loch Vennachar (Tate D26675; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 5). Turner may have reached these sites by taking several excursions, or he could have made a round trip of about forty miles by travelling from Callander via the Lake of Menteith to Aberfoyle, passing along the northern shore of Loch Ard and then turning north-west to reach Stronachlachar. After arriving at Aberfoyle, he may have taken the Duke’s Pass north to Loch Achray, and headed east to Callander via the Brig o’ Turk and Loch Vennachar. Sites in the Trossachs, including Loch Katrine, Loch Ard and Ledard Burn, are likely to have been considered as possible illustrations to Scott’s novel Rob Roy.
Leaving Callander, Turner continued his tour by heading east towards Kinross and then north to Perth. Passing the town of Dollar, he took the opportunity to trek up to Castle Campbell, making sketches in both the Stirling and West sketchbook and the Loch Ard book (Tate D26688; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 12). He continued alternating between the two books at Kinross, where he sketched Loch Leven Castle for Scott’s novel The Abbot, 1820 (Tate D26708; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 23). Although Cadell did not, in the event, commission any illustrations from Turner for the Waverley Novels, the artist did paint Loch Leven as an illustration to The Abbot, though for a different publication, Illustrations of Scotland and the Waverley Novels, published by Fisher and Co.: Lochleven Castle, circa 1835 (whereabouts unknown).4 This is the only watercolour that Turner made as a result of the sketches in this book.
On his way to Perth, Turner drew Burleigh Castle at Milnathort (Tate D26695; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 16). The town of Perth (Tate D26744; CCLXXII 41) and the nearby Kinfauns Castle on the River Tay (Tate D26724; Turner Bequest CCLXXII 31) were probably on his itinerary as suitable subjects to illustrate Scott’s The Fair Maid of Perth, 1828. These were the last sketches that Turner made in the Loch Ard sketchbook. From Perth he returned to Edinburgh on 28 or 29 September. Turner remained in Scotland for another week, sketching sites in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders in the Stirling and Edinburgh sketchbook and the Edinburgh sketchbook (Tate D26096–D26258 complete; Turner Bequest CCLXVIII).
1
Finberg 1909, II, pp.873–4.
2
Finley 1980, p.137; Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan 1990, pp.25–28.
3
David Wallace-Hadrill, ‘1834 Tour’ [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files; Gerald Finley, ‘Scotland’, in Joll, Butlin and Herrmann 2001, p.282.
4
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.435 no.1139.

Thomas Ardill
March 2011

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How to cite

Thomas Ardill, ‘Loch Ard sketchbook 1834’, sketchbook, March 2011, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, December 2012, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/loch-ard-sketchbook-r1136367, accessed 01 September 2014.