Joseph Mallord William Turner

Bothwell Bridge, Lanarkshire with the Parish Church in the Distance

1834

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 113 × 190 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D26319
Turner Bequest CCLXIX 31

Catalogue entry

Sketches on folios 31–33 (D26319–D26324) depict Bothwell Bridge, a seventeenth-century, four-span bridge that crosses the River Clyde from Hamilton to Bothwell in Lanarkshire. The Battle of Bothwell Bridge took place in 1679 on a site just north or the structure, and it was presumably this event that prompted Turner’s interest in the subject. The battle is the subject of Sir Walter Scott’s Old Mortality, 1816, one of the so-called Waverley Novels, a new collected edition of which Turner had been commissioned to illustrate. Turner’s sketches focus on the bridge rather than the fairly featureless battlefield.1
Turner visited Bothwell during a tour of the county of Lanarkshire on 19 September 1834; see Tour of Scotland for Scott’s Prose Works 1834 Tour Introduction. The sequence of sketches in this book suggests that he initially passed through the town on his way to Boswell Castle (folio 26; D26309) without making any sketches. He returned, however, and made his first sketch on the present page. From Bothwell Turner headed to Glasgow.
Drawn with the sketchbook inverted, this view was taken from the south side of the bridge and looks north across the bridge and the River Clyde towards the town of Bothwell. David Wallace-Hadrill, who identified this sketch, has noted that the tower of Bothwell Parish Church was built in 1833,2 a fact that proved that this sketch was made during Turner’s 1834 tour of Scotland, and therefore that the sketchbook belongs to this tour, rather than the 1831 tour as Finberg had assumed.3 There is another sketch of the church tower on the inside back cover of this sketchbook (D41048).

Thomas Ardill
October 2010

1
Although Turner did not in the event illustrate the volume, it was still illustrated by an engraving of Bothwell Bridge but by William Richardson after Clarkson Stanfield: Sir Walter Scott, Waverley Novels [Abbotsford edition], vol.II, Edinburgh 1843, facing p.589.
2
David Wallace-Hadrill, [CCLXIX Checklist], [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, unpaginated MS.
3
Finberg 1909, II, p.865.

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