In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVII 65 a

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook inverted is the drawing used as the basis for Turner’s watercolour of Jedburgh Abbey circa 1832 (Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati),1 engraved as the frontispiece illustration to the second volume of Sir Walter Scott’s Poetical Works. Having first visited the abbey in 1797, Turner returned with Robert Cadell on 9 August 1831. They had been staying at Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford home, and, having set off in the carriage shortly after midday, arrived in Jedburgh at three o’clock. That evening they dined with a friend of Cadell’s in the village of Crailing on the way to Kelso where they stayed the night. This was the start of Turner’s journey to Edinburgh via Berwick-upon-Tweed, from where he went on to the Trossachs and the Highlands.2
As Gerald Finley has observed, Cadell recorded Turner making this sketch in his diary: ‘we went up the Jed Water & got a very good view of the abbey from a stone bridge’.3 The view is thus from Abbey Bridge to the south across the Jed Water. At the left of the abbey is the seventeenth-century Parish Church, built within the grounds of the abbey; it was replaced in 1875 by a new church built away from the abbey.4
The level of detail in this sketch, compared to Turner’s other sketches, suggests that the artist had already settled on this as his view. This viewpoint fits the original commission for a view of Jedburgh ‘with river in foreground’.5 It was a familiar view to Turner, who had made a similar sketch in 1797 (Tate D0972; Turner Bequest XXXIV 63). That sketch was presumably in Turner’s mind when he included (or invented) figures by the water in the foreground, including women washing clothes.
At the top right of the page is a small sketch of the quatrefoil design along the parapet at the top of the tower. The gables in Turner’s sketch no longer survive.
The sketch on folio 62 (D26036; CCLXVII 64) was taken from close by.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Wilton 1979, p.427 no.1072.
Finley 1980, pp.125–8.
Robert Cadell, ‘Abbotsford Diary’, Tuesday 9 August 1831, National Library of Scotland, MS Acc.5188, Box 1, folio 111; transcribed in Finley 1972, p.384 note 145.
‘Jedburgh Abbey’, Undiscovered Scotland, accessed 19 June 2009,
Walter Scott letter to Robert Cadell, 13 March 1831, MS Acc.5131, folio 43, in Finley 1980, p.240.

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