Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 116 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 91 a

Catalogue entry

The larger sketch on this page, drawn with book held so that the spine is at the top, is of Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel as seen from the west.1 From just outside the chapel, the view looks past the south-east corner towards the south corner of the castle. The view is similar to a sketch on folio 91 (D26920) but with much more detail. Turner has paid attention to the pillars of the arched windows and to the dog-tooth moulding around the east window, as well as several details of the castle such as the stone work of the southern tower, the crow-stepped gables of the gatehouse, and the shape of the rock on which the castle stands. In the distance is the mountain Beinn Mheadhonach to the east.
The second sketch, drawn with the sketchbook inverted at the fore-edge of the page, was made from across Dunstaffnage Bay to the east. Across the water the castle sits on a headland with the mountains on the island of Mull, somewhat exaggerated in size, looming up behind. Across Loch Linnhe to the right are the hills of Morvern. Turner made a similar view, though from closer to the castle, on folio 91.
Although the artist had no commission at this time to paint Dunstaffnage, his studies would be put to good use a few years later when he painted a watercolour, Dunstaffnage circa 1832–5 (Indianapolis Museum of Art),2 to illustrate a new edition of Tales of a Grandfather, volume 24 of Sir Walter Scott’s Prose Works. For references to Turner’s other sketches of Dunstaffnage see folio 89 (D26916).

Thomas Ardill
January 2010

Both sketches identified by Wallace-Hadrill and Carolan 1991, pp.25, 29.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.344 no.1124.

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