Joseph Mallord William Turner

Loch Lomond, for Rogers’s ‘Poems’


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Watercolour on paper
Support: 221 × 241 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXX 182

Catalogue entry

This vignette, Loch Lomond, was published in the 1834 edition of Rogers’s Poems and appears as the head-piece to a poem entitled, ‘Written in the Highlands of Scotland, September 2, 1812’.1 The engraver was William Miller.2 Turner’s watercolour complements the opening description of Loch Lomond, two verses of which he highlighted with pencil in his own copy of the 1827 edition of Poems (Tate D36330; Turner Bequest CCCLXVI p.218):
Blue was the loch, the clouds were gone,
Ben-Lomond in his glory shone,
When, Luss, I left thee; when the breeze
Bore me from thy silver sands,
The fairy-isles fled far away;
That with its woods and uplands green,
Where shepherd-huts are dimly seen,
And songs are heard at close of day
(Poems, pp.203–4)
The artist also made four small thumbnail sketches of mountainous landscape within the margins (Tate D36330; Turner Bequest CCCLXVI pp.218–21). The first of these in particular seems to show a lake and mountains and reflects the composition of the finished vignette.3
In the rest of the poem, Rogers goes on to describe his travels through the Scottish landscape, peppering his text with countless topographical, historical, and literary allusions. The style and tone are deeply reminiscent of his long poem, Italy, which Turner illustrated shortly before beginning work on Poems. Similarly, Turner’s Loch Lomond bears a strong resemblance to several vignettes that he designed for Italy, namely Lake of Geneva and Lake Como (see Tate D27669, Turner Bequest CCLXXX 152 and Tate D27674; Turner Bequest, 157). Like these earlier compositions, the flat expanse of the lake in Loch Lomond is enlivened by several colourful boating parties in the foreground, whilst the background is an ethereal landscape of misty water and mountains. Although the location has changed from sunny Italy to cool and verdant Scotland, the format and tone of Turner’s treatment remains much the same.
Turner had explored Loch Lomond as part of his travels in Scotland during 1801 and may have referred to his topographical on-the-spot sketches dating from this tour (see for example the Scotch Lakes sketchbook, Turner Bequest LVI and Tummel Bridge sketchbook, Turner Bequest LVII, and some of the so-called ‘Scottish Pencils’, Turner Bequest LVIII). He also appears to have revisited it again in 1831 (see Tate D26652–D26653; Turner Bequest CCLXXI 17a–18).4
Samuel Rogers, Poems, London 1834, p.203.
W.G. Rawlinson, The Engraved Work of J.M.W. Turner, R.A., vol.II, London 1913, no.396. There are two impressions in Tate’s collection (T06168 and T06646).
Reproduced in Mordechai Omer, Turner and the Poets: Engravings and Watercolours from his Later Period, exhibition catalogue, Marble Hill House, Twickenham 1975, fig.4 and in Mordechai Omer, Turner und die Dichtkunst: Aquarelle; Graphik, exhibition catalogue, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich 1976, p.10.
Omer 1975, [p.9].

Meredith Gamer
August 2006

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