Joseph Mallord William Turner

Calton Hill and Holyrood Palace from Near St Anthony’s Chapel


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 190 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIX 85 a

Catalogue entry

Drawn with the sketchbook inverted is a view of Calton Hill and Holyrood Palace as seen from the slopes near St Anthony’s Chapel in Holyrood Park. The slope of Salisbury Crag fills the bottom-left corner of the page and obscures much of the city beyond. At the upper centre of the page is Calton Hill upon which stand the Nelson Monument and the National Monument with Calton Gaol on its lower slopes at the left. Beneath is Holyrood Palace with the ruins of Holyrood Abbey to the right. The sketch is one in a series of views of Edinburgh from near St Anthony’s Chapel in this sketchbook (see folio 89 verso; D26431), made in preparation for a the watercolour: Edinburgh from St Anthony’s Chapel circa 1834 (whereabouts unknown),1 an illustration to Walter Scott’s Prose Works.
Though rough and lacking in detail, this is one of Turner’s more complete sketches of Holyrood Palace and Abbey in this sketchbook. He has marked in two of the turreted towers at the left, indicated the windows of the three storeys and the rib-like flying buttresses of the abbey as well as its rose window. In none of Turner’s 1834 sketches is there enough detail to form the basis of the building as it is depicted in his watercolour, suggesting that he referred to other sources for the details in his painting.
For more information about Turner’s sketches of Edinburgh from Holyrood Park and the preparation of his watercolour see folio 89 verso.

Thomas Ardill
November 2010

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.433 no.1120.

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