Joseph Mallord William Turner

Firth of Forth from near Hopetoun; Hopetoun House; Group of Figures


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 187 x 114 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CC 45 a

Catalogue entry

The sketches on this page, used with the book turned to the right, were made at and near Hopetoun House where the last event of George IV’s visit to Scotland took place on 29 August 1822. The King was to visit the home of John Hope, the fourth Earl of Hopetoun, on his way to Port Edgar, from where he departed Scotland that afternoon. Fellow artists David Wilkie and William Collins were present at the house that day for the knighting of the veteran Scottish artist, Henry Raeburn, and it is likely that Turner, who attended a dinner party given by Raeburn on 22 August,1 would have been present too.
One of the sketches on this page certainly suggests that Turner visited Hopetoun on this day. At the bottom of the page two men, two women and a small child stand together talking. The man at the left wears a bonnet (similar to some of the examples on the recto of this page; D17581), a short jacket and trews, while the figure next to him wears a long coat or gown and carries a large item in his arms. The two women are wearing dresses and small bonnets and the child is dressed in a smock and also wears a hat. Presuming that this drawing is connected to the others on the page the figures are probably some of the two thousand guests that were entertained in the house or grounds of Hopetoun. Just over a hundred of the principal guests were to sit at table with the king, while double that number would eat elsewhere in the house. Other, lower-station guests were entertained in the grounds while still more, consisting of tenant farmers and their families, school children and local families, were stationed around the grounds where they could catch a glimpse of the King’s arrival. It was even the Earl’s intention ‘to place as many of the well dressed women & children upon the tops of the two colonnades and Pavilion as possible’.2 Yeomen, dragoons and the Company of Archers, of which Hopetoun was the Captain-General, lined up along the front of the house.3
It appears, however, from the very few Hopetoun sketches, that if Turner was at the house on the 29th, he was there principally to see Raeburn’s knighting rather than to draw the day’s events (he may also have been put off sketching by the heavy rain that day). Nothing to do with Hopetoun is included in Turner’s sketches for a ‘Royal Progress’ (see George IV's Visit to Edinburgh 1822 Tour Introduction); the final composition of the sequence being related, Finley suggests, to the King’s departure from Holyrood.4

Thomas Ardill
October 2008

Finley 1981, p.22
John Prebble, The King’s Jaunt: George IV in Scotland, August 1822 ‘One and twenty daft days’, Edinburgh 1988, pp.343–6
Illustrated in watercolour by Denis Dighton, George IV on the steps of Hopetoun House, circa 1822 (Hopetoun House Preservation Trust, Edinburgh)
Finley 1981, p.37.

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