Joseph Mallord William Turner

Fort Augustus: The Fort and Loch Ness


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 150 × 180 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXVI 13

Catalogue entry

Across the centre of the page is a sketch of the old fort at Fort Augustus. Made from across the mouth of the River Tarff to the south-west, this view looks north-east towards what remained in 1831 of the old fort, with the mountains on the western side of Loch Lomond beyond. The site has since changed with the building of a Benedictine monastery which was completed in 1882 and closed in 1998.
The other sketches on the page are likely to have been made from the same vantage point. The hills drawn at the top right of the page have been identified as a view north along the eastern shore of Loch Ness. It is not certain whether the rooftops to the left of this are part of the same sketch. If they are then they may be the same buildings shown at the left of the sketch discussed above.
At the bottom of the page is a slight and obscure sketch. In his notes on the sketchbook David Wallace-Hadrill made a copy of the sketch beneath noted the shape of the 1715 fort, and wrote ‘some buildings remain as part of the Abbey & the shape of the corner gun emplacements can be seen in low walls.’1 He therefore seems to have identified this sketch as showing one of these corner gun emplacements that are also visible in the sketch above. The row of vertical lines above may represent the masts of ships, several with booms or spars represented by horizontal lines.
For references to further sketches of Fort Augustus, including the sketch that became the basis of Turner’s watercolour, Fort Augustus, Loch Ness circa 1833 (private collection),2 see folio 18 (D26996).

Thomas Ardill
April 2010

David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner’s 1831 Sketchbook T.B. CCLXXVI Fort Augustus’, [circa 1992–3], Tate catalogue files, [unpaginated].
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.434 no.1129.

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