Joseph Mallord William Turner

Craignethan Castle, Lanarkshire: The Tower House


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 16 a

Catalogue entry

Turner’s series of about a dozen sketches of Craignethan Castle near Crossford in Lanarkshire can be read in their sketchbook order as a record of his visit to the castle; from his approach from the north (folio 14 verso; D26286) to his entrance at the west gate (folio 16; D26289), his exploration of the castle complex and its interior (folios 17 verso and 18; D26292, D26293), and then his circuit around the site to study it from different angles (folios 18 verso–21; D26294–D26299).
Having already passed through the gate to the courtyard and crossed the ditch (which was then filled in), he reached the tower house or keep, which is depicted in this economical, but amply detailed sketch of the western façade. Turner has included the arched entrance, the three windows and the carved coat of arms above the door, as well as the remains of the corner and central bartizans. His drawing of the stonework at the left corner of the tower is enough to indicate the pattern of the whole building. Similarly Turner drew the left bartizan in detail, but the right bartizan in outline only, and drew the corbels along the top of the wall at the left, but ignored the identical ones at the right. He also drew the shrub that had taken root at the top of the battlements, just as Alexander Archer did in his 1837 survey of the castle ruins: Alexander Archer, Front view of Craignethan Castle, 1837 (drawing, RCAHMS, Scotland).1 To the right of the castle is the outline of the tower at the south-east corner of the inner courtyard.
For more information about Turner’s visit to Craignethan Castle see folio 14 verso.

Thomas Ardill
October 2010

See ‘Craignethan Castle’, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland, accessed 6 October 2010, <>.

Read full Catalogue entry


You might like