Joseph Mallord William Turner

Fingal’s Cave, Staffa

1831

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 153 × 233 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D34015
Turner Bequest CCCXLI 297

Catalogue entry

In 2010 Thomas Ardill catalogued two drawings of Fingal’s Cave on similar grey paper (Tate D34001, D34002; Turner Bequest CCCXLI 284, 285), relating them to views in Turner’s Staffa sketchbook (Tate; Turner Bequest CCLXXIII). The present work and Tate D34016 (Turner Bequest CCCXLI 298) have since been identified as the same subject, possibly (as Ardill suggests) worked up in the studio while preparing the watercolour Fingal’s Cave, Staffa (currently untraced)1 for Sir Walter Scott’s Poetical Works, engraved as the title page vignette of The Lord of the Isles (1834; Tate impression: T04958).

The present drawing is so loose that although the shafts and ends of the cave’s basalt columns are evident, its orientation is uncertain. It does not seem to relate directly to any of the Staffa sketches, but compare Tate D26795–D26798 and D26800 (Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 28, 28a, 29, 29a, 30a), showing the interior.
1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.429 no.1089, reproduced.
Verso:
Blank; some water staining, possibly from the 1928 Tate Gallery flood. Inscribed in pencil ‘241 | O’ and ‘297’ bottom right.

Matthew Imms
September 2016

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