Joseph Mallord William Turner

Borthwick Castle

1818

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D13724
Turner Bequest CLXVII 76

Catalogue entry

This is recognised by Finberg and subsequent scholars as the basis for Turner’s watercolour, Borthwick Castle, 1818 (Indianapolis Museum of Art)1 for the Provincial Antiquities, as it indeed provides the most detailed sketch of the castle itself and the appearance of its surrounding landscape.2 However the composition of the watercolour draws upon the sketch on the opposite sketchbook page, folio 83 verso (D13723; CLXVII 75a), and elements from both sketches are combined in a pencil study in the Scotland and London sketchbook (Tate D13815; Turner Bequest CLXX 2) made in preparation for the watercolour. The view is from the north-west and shows the castle beyond the River Gore with a small cottage below it to the left. Around the castle, the curtain wall has lost most of its height, though the entrance at the west side and the corner tower just beyond it still stand, and are visible in the picture. At the top of the castle Turner has began to draw a row of stone corbels, stopping halfway along but noting that there are ‘28’ of them and ‘9’ on the side of the near tower (the second tower has eight). In the watercolour and engraving from it (T06057)3 the castle becomes narrower and the number of corbels is reduced. This is typical of the Provincial Antiquities watercolours which are often compressed horizontally from the original sketches (often made over two sketchbook pages) before being converted in the engravings to a slightly squarer format again (see Tour of Scotland 1818 Tour Introduction for more information).
The sketch at the top of the following page (folio 84 verso; D13725; CLXVII 76a) is taken from the same angle, though from a little further away, as is a sketch in the Edinburgh, 1818 sketchbook (Tate D13551; Turner Bequest CLXVI 52).

Thomas Ardill
April 2008

1
Wilton 1979, pp.425–6 no.1060.
2
Finberg 1909, I, p.487, CLXVII 76.
3
W[illiam] G[eorge] Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., London 1908 and 1913, vol.I, pp.108–9 no.191.

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