Joseph Mallord William Turner

Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel from the West and South


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

Catalogue entry

The two sketches on this page are of Dunstaffnage Castle and Chapel, which stand about 150 metres away from each other on a headland at the mouth of Loch Etive. The larger sketch across the centre of the page shows the two structures from the west, with the ruined chapel at the right and the castle beyond it to the left. They appear closer together in the sketch than they are in reality. Turner seems to have struggled to find a view that included both the castle and chapel, and therefore had to alter their spatial relationship in the composition of his watercolour of Dunstaffnage circa 1832–5 (Indianapolis Museum of Art),1 which he painted to illustrate Tales of a Grandfather, volume 24 of Sir Walter Scott’s Prose Works. There is a similar but more detailed sketch on folio 91 verso (D26921), and another view of the castle and chapel on folio 90 (D26918).
The second sketch, drawn at the fore-edge of the page with the sketchbook inverted, shows the castle and the ruin of an outbuilding from the south. Behind the castle and across Loch Linnhe are the mountains on the island of Mull at the left and the Morvern hills to the right. Turner may have made the drawing from across Dunstaffnage Bay, as a similar view on folio 91 verso was evidently made from across the water.
For references to all of Turner’s sketches of Dunstaffnage see folio 89 (D26916).

Thomas Ardill
January 2010

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.344 no.1124.

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