Joseph Mallord William Turner

Inveraray Castle and Town, Scotland


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 197 × 265 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CXVIII K

Catalogue entry

Etching and mezzotint by J.M.W. Turner and Charles Turner, ‘Inverary Castle and Town, Scotland.’, published J.M.W. Turner, ?1 January 1819 although dated 1 January 1816
Turner’s Liber Studiorum design shows Inveraray (which he gave as ‘Inverary’), Argyll and Bute. He had visited the town, about forty miles north-west of Glasgow, on the western leg of his first Scottish tour in 1801. It lies on the shore of Loch Fyne, with the inlet of Loch Shira to the north, and is here seen from the south, with its eighteenth-century castle, seat of the Dukes of Argyll, below the prominent central hill of Duniquoich (or Dùn na Cuaiche).
Although Turner was careful to mention him in the lettering of the print, he presumably no longer had access to the watercolour which the 5th Duke had commissioned, Loch Fyne, with Inverary Castle in the Distance, of around 1802–5 (Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan);1 the Liber composition follows it in only the most generalised compositional points, although the blustery conditions are common to both. Ruskin (referring to Turner’s etching work in the published Liber engraving, which emphasises the motion further) admired the two trees ‘in perfect poise, representing a double action: the warping ... away from the sea-wind, and the continual growing out of the boughs on the right-hand side, to recover the balance.’2
There are various sketches and colour studies showing Inveraray from similar viewpoints, usually with a repoussoir headland in the foreground, including tonal ‘Scottish Pencil’ studies (Tate D03388, D03390; Turner Bequest LVIII 9, 11) and watercolour studies (Tate D03632, D03641; Turner Bequest LX A, J). Another finished watercolour, Inverary, Loch Fyne, circa 1803 (Manchester Art Gallery)3 shows a similar, canopied boat beached on a spit in the foreground, but with the town very much closer, filling the space beyond. In 1811, Turner had shown Loch Shira in another Liber plate, Inverary-Pier. Loch Fyne. Morning4 (for which no preliminary Liber-type drawing is known, although it relates closely to a watercolour study: Tate D03633; Turner Bequest LX B).
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.339 no.349, reproduced.
Cook and Wedderburn VII 1903, p.87 (detail of etching reproduced, fig.56).
Wilton 1979, p.340 no.352, reproduced.
Rawlinson 1878, pp.73–5 no.35; 1906, pp.85–8 no.35; Finberg 1924, pp.137–40 no.35.
Forrester 1996, p.159 (transcribed).
Ibid., p.163 (transcribed).
Rawlinson 1878, pp.126–34; 1906, pp.148–58; Finberg 1924, pp.245–64.
Joyce Townsend, circa 1995, Tate conservation files.

Matthew Imms
August 2008

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