In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D13663
Turner Bequest CLXVII 45 b

Catalogue entry

In this study of Linlithgow, one of many in this sketchbook, Turner has placed Linlithgow Palace and St Michael’s Church in the context of its urban and landscape setting, and in relation to the human activity of the area. The palace and church are seen from a high vantage point to the south-west with the town of Linlithgow below and Linlithgow Loch to the left. In the foreground, a hunched figure is milking a cow; a pastoral image that prefigures the grazing cattle in Turner’s 1821 watercolour of Linlithgow Palace (Manchester City Galleries).1 However, the industrial activity of the town is also alluded to with the inscription ‘washing hides’, an activity involved in tanning – a major industry in Linlithgow at the time.
At the right side of the page, divided from the main sketch by a vertical line, is the continuation of a sketch on folio 51 (D13671; CLXVII 49), with the back of St Michael’s Church and to its right the Town House. The original Town House was constructed in 1670 and had a wooden spire, but was destroyed by fire in 1847.2 The same building is repeated in a sketch at the bottom of the page, and can also be seen in several other sketches of Linlithgow from the south-west: folios 52 verso, 53 and 54– 55 (D13664, D13673, D13675–D13677; CLXVII 45c, 50, 51–52). Its spire is also just visible in the watercolour above the trees to the left of St Michael’s Church.

Thomas Ardill
March 2008

1
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.426 no.1068.
2
This building was identified by John Aitken, editor of Linlithgow web, email to the author 12 March 2008.

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