Joseph Mallord William Turner

Edinburgh Castle: The North-East Battlements


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 99 × 159 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXV 64

Catalogue entry

At the left of this page is a sketch of the battlements of Edinburgh Castle as seen from the north-east. The most distinctive feature is the turret at the part of the castle called Mill’s Mount with the Argyll Battery running to its left. The Castle sits on a huge crag known as Castle Rock and Turner’s inscription in this part of the picture presumably reads ‘Rock’, although, considering that it looks more like ‘Rork’ it is possible that Turner was imitating, mocking or getting confused by the Scottish pronunciation of the word. As David Wallace Hadrill has pointed out, Turner exhibited, in later Scottish tours, an interest in recording the Gaelic language and Scottish manner of speech.1
The sketch on the right, drawn with the book turned to the right, is a rough depiction of a ruin which may perhaps represent St Anthony’s Chapel on Arthur’s Seat (see 60 verso; D13428; CLXV 58a). A similar sketch appears on folio 67 (D13441; CLXV 65).

Thomas Ardill
November 2007

David Wallace-Hadrill has written about Turner’s phonetic transliteration of dialectical Gaelic phrases in the back of the Stirling and the West sketchbook (Tate D26436–D26618; D41082–D41083; complete sketchbook; Turner Bequest CCLXX) in an unpublished article, ‘Turner’s Gaelic Phrase-List’, 1990, Tate catalogue files.

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