Joseph Mallord William Turner

Finlaggan Castle, Islay; and View from Ben Arthur, Argyll, or Sgurr na Stri, Skye


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 125 × 201 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXX 39 a

Catalogue entry

Drawn along the fore-edge of the page (with the sketchbook turned so that the fore-edge is at the bottom), Turner made a sketch of Loch Finlaggan on Islay as seen from the south-west with the Paps of Jura in the distance. A hill rises at the left of the sketch which must be Cnoc an Tighe. The sketch was probably made, therefore, from the track leading to Ballachlaven Farm; Turner may have been on his way to see the standing stone that is located half a mile to the west of the farm, before doubling back to the road to reach Bridgend (see folio 51 verso; D26537). At the left of the loch is the island of Eilean Mòr with the ruins of Finlaggan Castle on it (see folio 70 verso; D26575 for details). The sketch is inscribed ‘Portlevin’, which Dr David Caldwell has suggested is Turner’s attempt to write ‘Portnellen’ (also spelled ‘Portaneilean’) which was what Finlaggan Loch was known as until the middle of the nineteenth century.1
Drawn with the sketchbook inverted is a sketch that may show the view from the summit of Ben Arthur (the Cobbler) looking east towards Ben Lomond in the distance as in folio 33 (D26500). The distinctive rocky outcrop at the summit of Ben Arthur can be seen at the right of both sketches. Another possible identification is the view across Loch Coruisk from Sgurr na Stri, as in folio 39 (D26512).

Thomas Ardill
January 2010

Dr David H. Caldwell, Keeper of History and Applied Arts, National Museums of Scotland to David Wallace-Hadrill, 23 July 2004, Tate catalogue files.

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