Joseph Mallord William Turner

Distant Mountains; Also a Waterfall - Pass of Leny or Loch Ard

1834

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 190 × 113 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D26328
Turner Bequest CCLXIX 35 a

Catalogue entry

This is one of four pages of sketches of mountain scenery that may have been made at the Pass of Leny or Loch Ard: folios 35–36 verso (D26327–D26330); both subjects drawn in the Loch Ard sketchbook (Tate D26667–D26747; Turner Bequest CCLXXII complete group).
With the sketchbook turned to the landscape format (the page gutter at the left) is a sketch of two waterfalls. The first fall flows into a pool that Turner has noted is ‘v[ery] Dark’ and then spills over rocks in a second fall. While the sketch may look rough and scrappy at first, a closer examination reveals that Turner has used a variety of pencil marks – lines, dashes and loops – to represent the movement of the water as it tumbles, spills and splashes over the rocks. The shape and character of the rocks has also been carefully recorded and the large, leaning rock at the left resembles the boulder that splits the Falls of Leny at Kilmahog in the Pass of Leny near Callander into two.
Beneath the sketch is an inscription that may read: ‘Tales of Landlord’, referring to the novel series, Tales of My Landlord, by Sir Walter Scott that Turner had been commissioned to illustrate for a new edition of Scott’s collected Prose Works. If this is indeed a sketch of the Pass of Leny then the inscription could refer to the Legend of Montrose, one of the novels in the series. In chapter two ‘a young gentleman of quality’ is described as riding ‘slowly up one of those steep passes, by which the Highlands are accessible from the Lowlands of Perthshire’. The note suggests that ‘The beautiful pass of Leny, near Callander, in Monteith, would, in some respects, answer this description.’1
The other sketch, drawn at the foredge of the page with the book turned to the right, shows a distant mountain with a river or loch in the foreground. While this could be Ben Ledi with the River Teith in the foreground as seen from the Pass of Leny, the composition bears a strong resemblance to a view of Loch Ard with Ben Lomond in the distance drawn in the Loch Ard sketchbook: Tate D26677 (Turner Bequest CCLXXII 6). The identification of this sketch therefore remains uncertain.

Thomas Ardill
February 2011

1
Sir Walter Scott, Legend of Montrose, 1819, chapter II. The Pass of Leny was chosen as the frontispiece illustration to The Legend of Montrose by Samuel Fisher for his 48 volume edition of the Waverley Novels, London 1836–9: Samuel Fisher after Henry Melville, ‘The Pass of Leny’, frontispiece to The Legend of Montrose, vol.15, London 1837.

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