Joseph Mallord William Turner

Edinburgh, from near Murrayfield


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXVII 63 a

Catalogue entry

This view of Edinburgh from the Water of Leith, one of several in this part of the Scotch Antiquities sketchbook (folios 62–64; D13690–D13694; CLXVII 59–61), was, as Finberg noted, taken from near Murrayfield.1 In fact this is probably the bend in the river between Murrayfield in the west, the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art in the north and West Coates to the south. Here the river turns and widened as another stream enters it, and there are ripples in the water at this point in the drawing. We therefore look down at the water from the high north bank which is covered in trees and shrubs. At the top of the bank is the ruin of a chapel or some other stone-built towered building, and below by the water’s edge are several willow trees, identified by Turner’s inscription, ‘w’, and by comparison with the trees on folio 63 verso (D13693; CLXVII 60a). Here the water is still and dark, with bright reflections of the willow trees. There is a bridge where the river narrows before opening up again.
Edinburgh Castle is the dominant feature in the distance, built on top of the volcanic plug of Castle Rock, it appears like a man-made extension of the natural feature at the heart of the city. Behind the castle to its right is Arthur’s Seat, and to the left is the dome of St George’s Church in Charlotte Square at the west of the New Town.
This sketch continues very slightly at the right to folio 67 (D13700; CLXVII 64), and there follows in the sketchbook further views from the west of the city (folios 70 verso and 71; D13746 and D13738; CLXVII 87a and 83) and views from the nearby Village of Dean, about half a mile away to the north-east (folios 71 verso–73; D13739–D13742; CLXVII 83a–85).

Thomas Ardill
March 2008

Finberg 1909, I, p.486, CLXVII 63a.

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