This sketch has been regarded by several writers as the basis for Turner’s watercolour, Edinburgh from St Anthony’s Chapel circa 1834–6 (Tate T04750), which was engraved to illustrate the first volume of Tales of a Grandfather, in the new edition of Sir Walter Scott’s Prose Works.1 While this is certainly one of the artist’s most fully developed sketches of the view, and in many ways come close to the composition of the watercolour, it is in fact one of a number of sketches that contributed to the final design, the composition of which was not drawn from any single sketch. See folio 89 verso (D26431) for more information and references to further sketches.
Like the watercolour, the foreground of this sketch is occupied by the crags in Holyrood Park to the south-east of the city. The ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel are the main feature, seen here at the right of the sketch with rocks and what may be a sheep to the left, hinting at a feature of the Prose Works design. The disposition of objects in the background of this sketch and watercolour are similar, with Edinburgh Castle at the left, Calton Hill with Nelson’s Monument and the National Monument at the upper centre and Holyrood Palace and Abbey below. Other significant buildings are, however, left out of this sketch.
Turner continued the drawing at the right of folio 78 verso (D26427) by folding this page back a little and continuing the view to the right on the page beneath.
Wilton 1979, p.433 no.1120; Finley 1980, pp.182, 258 note 47.