Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dunfermline Abbey from the South-West

1831

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 125 × 201 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D26442
Turner Bequest CCLXX 4

Catalogue entry

From the glen to the south-west of Dunfermline Abbey, this view looks up to the abbey church at the top of the picture. The church is depicted in outline only with the north-west tower and spire and the smaller south-west tower at the left, and the square east tower at the right. Turner could afford to be economical in this sketch as he had drawn a more detailed view from nearby opposite on folio 3 verso (D26441). There are a number of houses and small buildings beneath the abbey, one of which appears to have a water-wheel as in Turner’s watercolour, Dunfermline circa 1834–5 (private collection),1 which shows the abbey from a similar view. To the left of the sketch is the glen in what is now Pittencrieff Park.
Turner visited Dunfermline on his way from Edinburgh to Stirling in 1831 and later used his sketches as the basis for an illustration to a new edition of Sir Walter Scott’s Tales of a Grandfather. See folio 3 verso (D26441) for details and references to further sketches.

Thomas Ardill
June 2010

1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.433 no.1121.

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