Joseph Mallord William Turner

Bass Rock and Rosyth Castle


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 90 × 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXVI 29 a

Catalogue entry

A drawing of the Bass Rock probably made from the cliffs at Tantallon Castle with the cliff edge in the foreground is made across this and the opposite page (folio 30; D13507). Turner made numerous sketches of the Bass Rock in all three of the 1818 Scottish sketchbooks, but this is one of the more detailed studies. As well as carefully indicating the shape of the island and the details of all the gullies and protuberances of the rock, Turner has drawn the fortifications and, halfway up the island, the tiny chapel dedicated to the hermit St Baldred who lived on the island in the eighth century.
At the top of the page is a sketch of Rosyth Castle, one of Turner’s few subjects on the north side of the Firth of Forth from this tour. In Turner’s time the castle stood on a tidal island only accessible during low tide, however the surrounding land was reclaimed at the start of the twentieth century and the castle now sits in the centre of Rosyth Dockyard. The inscription, ‘ro’, on the left of the page presumably stands for ‘Rosyth’. There is another view of Rosyth Castle on the following page (folio 30).

Thomas Ardill
December 2007

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