Joseph Mallord William Turner

Fingal’s Cave, Staffa


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 116 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 30 a

Catalogue entry

In this sketch of Fingal’s Cave on the Isle of Staffa Turner depicts a 180-degree view as if in a convex mirror, showing both the mouth of the cave and the dark recesses of the back of the cave opposite within the same sketch. The cave mouth is at the left and the back of the cave is at the right. While the sketching is rapid and rather rough, Turner took care to distinguish between the different rock formations in the cave, drawing the columnar basalt of the walls with vertical lines and loops for the tops or bottoms of broken columns (top and bottom right), but using jagged, broken lines for the ceiling which has a less regular crystalline structure.
See folio 29 (D26797) for more information about Turner’s sketches of Fingal’s Cave, and folio 40 (D26817) for references to all of Turner’s sketches on Staffa.

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

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