Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ardtornish Castle

1831

Not on display

Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 91 × 153 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D26951
Turner Bequest CCLXXIV 9

Catalogue entry

This sketch of a ruin on a promontory has been confidently identified by David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan as Tioram Castle in Loch Moirdart.1 The building, however, looks quite different from Tioram, being in a more ruinous state without the tower house or five-sided curtain wall. Furthermore it is either too small, or the rock on which it sits is too big.
A better match, and one that is more consistent with Turner’s route from Oban to Skye, is Ardtornish Castle, which sits on a promontory off the north shore of the Sound of Mull. The promontory in the sketch is the correct shape, and the ruin has the square-shaped stub on the southern wall which faces the end of the promontory, and which closely matches Ardtornish. The view would therefore be from the Sound of Mull to the south-east, and the sketch would have been made as Turner travelled up the Sound towards Skye. This is consistent with the other sketches in the book which follow on from views of Duart Castle at the mouth of the Sound (folio 5 verso; D26945). There may be further sketches of the castle, made as Turner drew closer to it, on the reverse of this page (folio 9 verso; D26952).
At the bottom of the page is a rough sketch of the profile of a hill.

Thomas Ardill
February 2010

1
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on the Isle of Skye 1831’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folio 6].

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