In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVII 90

Catalogue entry

Turner’s visit to Ashestiel, Sir Walter Scott’s former residence on the banks of the River Tweed between Melrose and Innerleithen, on 5 August 1831 was recorded by Robert Cadell in his diary.1 Cadell described the trip, paying particular attention to Turner’s activity, and it is possible to match Turner’s sketches to Cadell’s descriptions of them. Gerald Finley has thus identified the view of Ashestiel and the Tweed on folios 86 verso to 88 verso (D26085–D26089; CCLXVII 88a–90a),2 to which we can add views on folios 84 verso–86 (D26081–D26084; CCLXVII 86a–88).
Ashestiel was to be the illustration for volume 7 of Scott’s Poetical Works: Marmion, as the author had composed both it and the Lady of the Lake while he was living there. Turner’s visit was made in the company of Cadell and Scott by coach from Abbotsford, the poet’s home where Turner stayed for several days during his 1831 Scottish tour.
The drawing on the present page, continued on folio 87 verso (D26087; CCLXVII 89a) and drawn with the sketchbook inverted, formed the basis of Turner’s watercolour vignette illustration, Ashestiel circa 1831–4 (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge).3 It shows a view of the house from the opposite bank on the north of the Tweed, and is the second sketch that Turner made, the first being a view made from the bank opposite the road from Clovenfords (folios 88 verso to 89).
The house stands on the banks above the river, with the water (inscribed ‘Tweed’) flowing below it. To the left is the track that leads up to the house from the ford across the river, and directly behind the house is Ashestiel Hill with Middle Hill to the right on folio 87 verso. Turner has added the notes ‘3’ and ‘4’, which must refer to architectural features of the house, such as windows or chimneys.
Having made this sketch the cart forded the river and drove up to the house. From there Turner took a boat on the Tweed to make further sketches.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Robert Cadell, Abbotsford Diary, Friday 5 August 1831, folios 104–104 verso, National Library of Scotland, MS Acc.5188, Box 1; transcribed in Finley 1972, pp.378–9.
Finley 1972, p.378 notes 122–3 and 125.
Wilton pp.428–9 no.1083.

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