Joseph Mallord William Turner

Details of Highland Dress


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 x 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CC 45

Catalogue entry

The sketches and notes of items of highland dress on this and the opposite page (folio 44 verso; D17580), made with the sketchbook inverted, relate to the costumes worn by gentlemen at the Peers’ Ball on 23 August 1822. Turner’s notes on this page read as follows.
All [?]pink [...] all blue 
     yellow     purple     Dirk 
Red Blue Blue [?]velum [...] arms 
The Headress being of the most common 
     Silver       [?]Ermine [or ‘crimson’] hue Gold Deer 
[?]Embossed [...] kirk 
S Bairne ==  [?]Ruff H[...] behind 
Red crimson [?]jacket studded with      [?]Gloveless Ball 
Silver nails                      White sash 
                             White buttons on the [?]jackets 
This page is given over mainly to sketches that catalogue the diversity of costume, with eight different hats, three shields, two dirks (daggers), and three belts. There is also at the left what may be the handle of a sword, a spear or perhaps a finial-type decoration in the Assembly Rooms where the ball was held, and at the right what may be another decoration or part of a costume.
The inscriptions, some of which remain indecipherable, mainly refer to specific sketches and provide additional information about them, principally their colour. Examples of other longer descriptions are: ‘The headdress of the most common ermine [or crimson hue]’, ‘red crimson [?]jacket studded with silver nails’ and ‘white buttons on the [?]jackets’.
For more information on highland costume see folio 44 verso.

Thomas Ardill
October 2008

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