Joseph Mallord William Turner

George IV’s Flotilla of Barges Approaching Leith Harbour


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 114 × 187 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CC 72

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook inverted, there are two sketches of the flotilla of barges that escorting King George IV from the royal yacht to Leith Harbour on 15 August 1822, and a small sketch of a figure at the right of the page. The top sketch shows two of the barges. The one at the left has a ‘Green’ hull and a ‘white bottom’. The vessel at the left is ‘green’ and ‘grey’, and the inscriptions ‘blue’ and ‘white’ probably refer to the jackets and trousers of the crew; they also wore black velvet caps,1 and a sketch of a figure on this page may show one of these sailors. The oarsmen hold their oars up ready to land at the specially built landing stage. The flotilla was preceded by Admiral Beresford’s barge and followed by the royal barge, which, like the first vessel in this sketch, had a green hull as indicated on a sketch on folio 52 (D17595).
Three barges are shown in the bottom sketch approaching Leith Harbour which is faintly shown behind. The accompanying inscriptions are illegible.

Thomas Ardill
September 2008

John Prebble, The King’s Jaunt: George IV in Scotland, August 1822 ‘One and twenty daft days’, Edinburgh 1988, p.246 and ‘His Majesty’s Visit to Scotland’, The Gentleman’s Magazine: and Historical Chronicle, vol.92, June-December 1822, p.246.

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