This is the first sketch that Turner made of Newark Castle as he passed it on the way from St Mary’s Loch to Selkirk on 2 October 1834;1 see Edinburgh sketchbook 1834 Introduction for further information about this excursion. The artist had visited the castle during a tour of the Scottish Borders in 1831, undertaken to sketch subject matter to illustrate Sir Walter Scott’s Poetical Works. Sketches of the castle are in the Abbotsford sketchbook, including one which was used as the basis for a watercolour vignette: Newark Castle, circa 1832 (private collection): (Tate D26066; Turner Bequest CCLXVII 79).2 Despite the fact that by 1834 the engraving after his watercolour had already been published, Turner still made six sketches of the ruin; a testament, perhaps, to his long-held habit of drawing castles, and perhaps also to a sense of nostalgia for his previous visit when Scott was still alive. The subject was not relevant to the publications that Robert Cadell had commissioned him to illustrate: Scott’s Prose Works and Waverley Novels, and J.G. Lockhart’s Life of Scott.
The present view is from across the Yarrow Water to the north-west. This time he did not cross the river to get a closer look at the castle, as he had done in 1831, but stayed on the northern side, sketching as he continued on his way to Selkirk: folios 36 verso–38 verso (D26165–D26169).