Joseph Mallord William Turner

Aros Castle, Sound of Mull

1831

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 116 × 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D26838
Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 50

Catalogue entry

The sketches of a ruined castle on this page are unlikely to be of Dunollie Castle as Finberg suggested,1 as they have quite the wrong shape. David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan have suggested that the top sketch may be of Ardtornish Castle or Mingary Castle, the middle sketch either Ardtornish or Aros Castle, and the bottom sketch perhaps Mingary Castle.2
While these castles do bear a slight resemblance to Mingary and Ardtornish Castles, a more likely explanation is that they are all of Aros Castle, which is depicted in sketches on the previous and following pages of this book (folios 49 verso and 50; D26837, D26839). The sketch at the bottom of this page in particular resembles the sketch of Aros Castle on folio 49 verso. It is seen here from the north, now with the ruins of the castle’s outbuildings. At the left of the sketch is an inscription that may say ‘Salen’, the village that lies to the south of the castle. The inscription above the castle is harder to make out. Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan have suggested it may say ‘Mingary’,3 although this is impossible with the current identification. An alternative may be ‘Is[le] Mull’.
The other two views of the castle look west towards a sun setting over the Isle of Mull and reflected in the water. Both sketches carry inscriptions that could say ‘Aros’, though it is uncertain.
These sketches were made on Turner’s return to Oban from Tobermory on Mull, a journey that is recorded in the following sequence of sketches: folio 48–57 verso (D26833–D26852).

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

1
Finberg 1909, II, p.877.
2
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on Mull and Staffa, 1831’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folio 14].
3
Ibid.

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