Joseph Mallord William Turner

Part of the Ceremony of the Laying of the Foundation Stone of the National Monument, Calton Hill


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 187 x 114 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CC 29

Catalogue entry

Drawn at the other edge of the page with the sketchbook turned to the left, this is the last in a sequence of eight sketches of the ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone of the National Monument on 27 August 1822 (see folio 22 verso; D17540). This sketch concentrates on the figures seated at a table on the platform erected to the east of the place where the stone was laid. Turner has included the table itself, upon which various items are laid out. Two figures are shown seated, though there were evidently more, at least at some points during the ceremony (see folios 25 verso and 28 verso; D17546, D17552), and there are further figures standing to the left, as well as a guard with a shield and pike at the left of the page.
The figures are identified by inscriptions, though they are hard to decipher. The first may be the Duke of Hamilton, who was the Grand Master Mason and is probably the figure in this and several other sketches (folios 24 verso; D17544) who sits prominently at the centre of the table, a belt across his shoulder. The next inscription may read ‘D[u]k[e of] Atholl’, another important figure who gave a word of thanks at the ceremony. The other two inscriptions here and at the left of the page have not been identified and do not match any of the people known to have been at the event.

Thomas Ardill
October 2008

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