Joseph Mallord William Turner

Roslin Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 112 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXVII 65 a

Catalogue entry

From down in Roslin Glen, this view made with the sketchbook inverted, looks up the steep bank to Roslin Castle which is seen through the trees above. The visible parts of the castle are the ruins of the keep and the more intact East Range, and the bank is covered in ‘ash’ trees and shrubs, their ‘roots’ clinging to the rocky gorge. There is a waterfall at the right of the page so the ‘water’ in the picture is shown as full of movement with various scribbles and sketches representing eddies and waves, and ‘spray’ coming off the ‘moss’ covered rocks. On the right, however, is a calm pool, less affected by the turbulent waterfall so that the water is still enough to reflect the ‘sky’, and it is at this point in the watercolour, that Turner included a kilted gentleman fly-fishing.
The drawing shows a very similar view to another on folio 69 (D13704; CLXVII 66) which formed the basis for Turner’s watercolour composition, Roslin Castle, circa 1820 (Indianapolis Museum of Art).1 The present sketch was taken from closer to the bank, and may have been made after folio 69 in order to capture close-up details such as the water and rocks, which are more detailed while the castle is much less so. There are further sketches with a similar viewpoint in the Edinburgh, 1818 sketchbook (Tate D13524, D13525 and D13527; Turner Bequest CLXVI 38a, 39, 40).

Thomas Ardill
March 2008

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.426 no.1065.

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