Joseph Mallord William Turner

Roxburgh Castle, Near Kelso


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVII 22 a

Catalogue entry

Turner visited Roxburgh Castle near Kelso on 10 August 1831 in the company of Robert Cadell. As the publisher recorded in his diary:
We then walked by the bridge over the Teviot to the Ruins of Roxburgh Castle – which we traversed – Mr T. took a sketch from it also from a Knoll nearer Kelso1
The sketch from the knoll has been identified by Gerald Finley as the current page.2 The view is from the east across the Teviot (perhaps from Kay Brae) and shows the river twisting in the foreground and running in front of the castle mound. There is a view from further to the east on folio 58 verso (D26023; CCLXVII 57a).
Although Roxburgh Castle was not illustrated for Sir Walter Scott’s Poetical Works (the collection of views for which Turner travelled to Sctotland in 1831), it did appear on Scott and Cadell’s first list of subjects of illustrations.3 On 19 March it was also suggested as a possible vignette illustration to the first volume, although in discussion with Turner on 6 August it was dropped. Nevertheless, it was close to Kelso so Turner took the trouble to visit it and make a number of sketches. Folios 36 verso–38 (D25989–D25992; CCLXVII 36a–38) have been tentatively identified as views of the ruins of Roxburgh from closer to, executed as Turner and Cadell traversed the ruins.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Robert Cadell, ‘Abbotsford Diary’, Wednesday 10 August 1831, National Library of Scotland, MS Acc.5188, Box 1, folio 111; transcribed in Finley 1972, p.384.
Finley 1972, p.384 note 147.
Gerald Finley, Landscapes of Memory: Turner as Illustrator to Scott, London 1980, p.240.

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