Joseph Mallord William Turner

Landscape With Distant Hills (?Near Oban); and Continuation of Dunstaffnage Castle from Loch Etive


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 186 × 116 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 80 a

Catalogue entry

The sketches at the top right of this page, drawn with the book turned to the right, and across the lower half of the page (continuing on folio 81; D26900) depict a ragged landscape with Italianate trees and distant hills. There are no distinctive topographical features to identify the location or subject. However, recording such details does not seem to have been Turner’s aim as the outlines of the distant hills or mountains are inexact, the trees are generalised, and while the rocky or shrubby character of the foreground is captured, the subject is lost. Turner’s aim seems to have been to capture the character of the landscape rather than details of topography or subject matter.
His intentions are perhaps explained by an inscription on folio 81 above the continuation of one of these sketches. The word ‘Gaspard’, as John Gage has pointed out,1 refers to Gaspard Dughet (1615–1675), a painter that Turner admired and emulated.2 Either the landscape of this sketch reminded Turner of Dughet (as Tivoli had in 1819: Tivoli to Rome Sketchbook, 1819; Tate D15002; Turner Bequest CLXXIX 41), or he saw the potential in it to create a painting emulating the old master. The treatment of the trees in these sketches certainly demonstrates that Turner was able to see the Scottish landscape through the eyes of the French painter. The same inscription is found on folio 60 verso of this sketchbook (D26859), a view of Dunollie Castle from Gallanach near Oban. This suggests that these sketches may have been made on the same occasion, and therefore may depict a location nearby, perhaps a view from the Gallanach Cliffs.
At the top-left of the page is the continuation of two sketches of Dunstaffnage Castle from folio 81, showing on the present page the outline of the distant Morvern hills.

Thomas Ardill
February 2010

John Gage, Colour in Turner: Poetry and Truth, London 1969, pp.97, 244 note 102.
Ian Warrell, ‘“Stolen hints from celebrated pictures”: Turner as Copyist, Collector and Consumer of Old Master Paintings, David Solkin (ed.), Turner and the Masters, exhibition catalogue, Tate Britain, London 2009, pp.43, 225 note 11.

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