This is one of the most beautiful of the ‘Scottish Pencils’, but its subject has yet to be confirmed. It has been suggested that the house glimpsed between the trees at the right is Monzie Castle, but Turner’s schematic representation of the building does not bear this out; nor is the conformation of the valley very like. Compare the 1801 Scotch Lakes sketchbook (Tate D03189–D03192; Turner Bequest LVI 141a–142, 142a–143).
The evocation of scale and distance, with the careful placing of the trees as a partial screen, anticipates ‘house portrait’ compositions of a later period, such as The Vale of Ashburnham, a watercolour executed for Cooke’s Views in Sussex in 1816 (British Museum, London).1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.348 no.425, pl.126.