Joseph Mallord William Turner

Edinburgh and the Firth of Forth from Calton Hill; and Carriage and Figures Probably Associated with the Procession to Edinburgh Castle with the Regalia


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CC 35 a

Catalogue entry

The page contains sketches of views from the top of Calton Hill which Gerald Finley associates with composition ‘16’ of a series of compositions making up a plan for a Royal Progress (see the King at Edinburgh 1822 sketchbook; Tate D40979; Turner Bequest CCI 43a). This composition illustrates the procession to Calton Hill associated with the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone of the National Monument. The two sketches in question show views from two sides of Calton Hill.
At the right of the page is a view looking west towards Edinburgh (continued on folio 36; D17564) familiar from sketches in 1818 (Tate D13651–D13652, D13654; Turner Bequest CLXVII 39a–40, 41) and the subsequent watercolour Edinburgh from Calton Hill, circa 1819 (National Gallery of Scotland).1 At the left of the view is the open crown spire of St Giles’s Cathedral with Edinburgh Castle to its right and North Bridge beneath. Turner also used the view for his watercolour March of the Highlanders, circa 1836 (Tate N04953) which was engraved by T. Higham in 1836 for Fisher’s Illustrations to the Waverley Novels of Sir Walter Scott. The picture is of an event which preceded the laying of the foundation stone of the National Monument on 27 August 1822.2
At the left of the page, drawn with the sketchbook turned to the right, is a view from Calton Hill looking north across the Firth of Forth towards Burntisland in Fife. Calton Hill is in the left foreground and the island of Inchkeith can be seen at the right.
The backs of two costumed figures, one with ‘GR’ (George Rex, the King’s royal cipher) emblazoned on his tunic, could be figures sketched during the foundation stone ceremony as they somewhat resemble costume sketches at that event (see folio 26 verso; D17548). However, the character of the sketch differs considerably from the others executed on that occasion which were made from the top of Nelson’s Monument (see folio 22 verso; D17540), and there is no reason to assume that just because these sketches relate to composition ‘16’ and the foundation stone ceremony that they were made on the same day.

Thomas Ardill
September 2008

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.426 no.1062.
Finley 1981, p.37.
Finley 1981, p.83.
John Prebble, The King’s Jaunt: George IV in Scotland, August 1822 ‘One and twenty daft days’, Edinburgh 1988, p.288, my italics.

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