The two sketches at the top of this page belong to a series of drawings of Dunstaffnage Castle as seen from the southern bank of Loch Etive to the east: folios 80 verso–83 verso, 84 verso and 86 (D26899–D26905, D26907, D26910). This prospect of the castle on a headland with mountains in the distance seems to have interested Turner, although when he came to paint a watercolour of the castle – Dunstaffnage circa 1832–5 (Indianapolis Museum of Art)1 – he selected a different viewpoint (see folio 89; D26916). A note in the top sketch identifies the distant mountains as those on the Isle of ‘Mull’ at the left, and the mountains of ‘Morvn’ (Morvern) at the right.
The two rather roughly executed sketches at the bottom of the page were made on a separate occasion and depict a landscape that cannot be identified by the topography. An inscription above the top sketch (which continues on folio 80 verso; D26899), however, provides a clue to a possible location. ‘Gaspard’, referring to the painter Gaspard Dughet (1615–1675), is also inscribed on a sketch on Dunollie Castle from near the Gallanach cliffs near Oban on folio 60 verso (D26859). The two sketches here (and another on folio 80 verso) may therefore have been made at the same time, in which case they are perhaps views looking inland from the cliffs. Whatever the location, Turner’s interest does not seem to be in the topography, but in the character of the landscape which reminded him of the French artist. His chaotic looking pencil marks capture the character of the rocky or shrubby landscape, and his tall slender trees are drawn in imitation of Dughet and Claude Lorrain. For further information see folio 80 verso.
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.344 no.1124.