Joseph Mallord William Turner

Court of Linlithgow Palace


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXVII 54

Catalogue entry

Having made a number of close-up studies of Linlithgow Palace (folios 43 verso–44, 45 verso–49 and 50; D13656–D13657, D13660–D13667, D13669; CLXVII 41a–42, 43a–47, 48), and circled it clockwise, making sketches all the while (folios 50 verso–56 verso; D13663–D13664, D13670–D13680; CLXVII 48a–53), Turner then returned to make a few final close-up architectural studies, here sketching the palace courtyard.
There was no mention of illustrating the courtyard for the Provincial Antiquities in Edward Blore’s letter to Scott of 20 October 1818 which included ‘a list of the Lothian subjects’ for Scott’s consideration, rather he only mentions ‘1 of Linlithgow & Palace’.1 Blore’s illustrations of the Court of Linlithgow Palace for the sixth number of the Provincial Antiquities (in which Turner’s view of the Palace from the north-east engraved by Robert Wallis also appeared),2 and his two illustrations in the eighth number of Linlithgow Church & Entrance to the Palace and Interior of the Hall of Linlithgow Palace must therefore have been proposed at a later date.3 Turner’s drawings of the courtyard and the Palace Entrance (folio 58; D13682; CLXVII 55) were therefore presumably made on his own initiative and for his own interest.
The view looks towards the east range which is dominated by the old main entrance, the outside of which Turner sketched on folio 48 (D13665; CLXVII 46). Once again he has economised by leaving its right half blank, as it is symmetrical with the left. Above this Turner has drawn three arched windows, but inscribed ‘6’ to indicate the full number. Similarly ‘6’ is inscribed on the corner tower to indicate that there are six rows of narrow windows, and ‘4’, inscribed on the right, indicates the number of mullion windows in each of the three rows of the south range (though there are in fact five). The faint arch at the right is the newer South Entrance to the Palace (see folio 58; D13682; CLXVII 55).
At the bottom of the page is the ornate sixteenth-century fountain adorned with pinnacles and animal sculptures. The fountain has several further tiers of decoration, but these may not have been present when Turner saw it, as William Millar’s engraving after W. Brown in 1830 of the Court of Linlithgow shows the fountain in a dilapidated state.4 It has since been restored.
Edward Blore to Sir Walter Scott, 20 October 1818, National Library of Scotland, MS 3889, folio 217.
Provincial Antiquities and Picturesque scenery of Scotland with descriptive illustrations by Sir Walter Scott, Bart., Vol.II, London and Edinburgh, 1826, opposite pp.169, 177.
Walter Scott and Edward Blore shared an interest in the east entrance to Linlithgow Palace, as Scott had recently commissioned Blore and William Atkinson to design the entrance to his home, Abbotsford, based on the Linlithgow doorway. The inclusion of an illustration of this subject in the Provincial Antiquities was presumably related to this.
Select Views Of The Royal Palaces Of Scotland, From Drawings by William Brown, Glasgow; With Illustrative Descriptions Of Their Local Situation, Present Appearance, And Antiquities. John Jamieson. Cadell & Co & Simpkin Marshall, Edinburgh & London 1830.

Thomas Ardill
March 2008

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