Joseph Mallord William Turner

Loch Ailort from the Sound of Arisaig


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Pen and ink and graphite on paper
Support: 91 × 153 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Catalogue entry

The first sketch that Turner made in the present sketchbook was apparently taken from the Sound of Arisaig. Having filled the pages of the thin Sound of Mull no.1 sketchbook (Tate D26936–D26948; D26950–D26954; D41019–D41020 complete; Turner Bequest CCLXXIV) as he travelled up the Sound of Mull from Oban, Turner then opened the even thinner Sound of Mull no.2 sketchbook as he approached Arisaig.
The present sketch has been identified as a view looking into Loch Ailort from the Sound of Arisaig, with the northern tip of the island of Eilean nan Gobhar at the right.1 It is curious that Turner drew the northern shore of the loch but ignored the more mountainous and interesting southern shore. The other sketches in the Sound of Mull no.2 sketchbook, however, demonstrate that Turner’s principal interest was the Isle of Skye, and that the present landscape was simply incidental to him.
The page carries the inscriptions of Henry Scott Trimmer, John Prescott Knight and Charles Lock Eastlake, the executors of the Turner Bequest, as well as the initials ‘RLB’ and ‘NJ’ and the numbers ‘57’ and ‘9 3/4’, which were written above the executors’ inscriptions and therefore probably written first. The significance of these inscriptions has not been determined.

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

David Wallace–Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on the Isle of Skye 1831’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folio 7].

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