Joseph Mallord William Turner

Edinburgh from the South; The Firth of Forth

1818

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D13705
Turner Bequest CLXVII 66 a

Catalogue entry

Over this page and folio 70 (D13747; CLXVII 87) are two panoramic sketches; an expansive view of Edinburgh from the south, filling most of the two pages, and a slighter sketch of the Firth of Forth across the top of the two pages. The main sketch is identifiably predominantly by the distinctive outline of Arthur’s Seat at the intersection of the two pages. To its right is the Firth of Forth with two hill shapes that may be the Bass Rock and North Berwick Law. At the right of the present page Calton Hill can be made out with Nelson’s Monument on top, and at the centre is the rough outline of Edinburgh Castle with what may be the spire of St Giles’s Cathedral to its right. The view was probably made from the foot of the Braid Hills to the south of the city, which was a famous view of Edinburgh, and one of the picturesque views that Walter Scott commissioned for the Provincial Antiquities of Scotland (engraved by George Cooke after A.W. Callcott for the fifth number of the publication). Turner made a number of drawings of this and similar views during this tour of Scotland (see Bass Rock and Edinburgh sketchbook, Tate D13400; Turner Bequest CLXV 44a).
The second sketch, a view identified by Finberg as the Firth of Forth, may relate to the drawing below, in which part of the estuary is shown in the distance and to the east of Arthur’s Seat. It is evidently seen from a distance and may be the view from the top of one of the nearby hills.

Thomas Ardill
March 2008

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