Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ruin on a Headland of Loch Ness; and a View South Down Loch Ness


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 150 × 180 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXVI 20

Catalogue entry

Two sketches on this page show a ruin on a headland inscribed something like ‘Balan Castle’. Finberg read this as ‘Balin Castle’,1 though there is no such place so the suggestion is not much help. Urquhart Castle is a possibility, as the page comes in the sketchbook between sketches of that structure. However, there is nothing about the shape of the ruin to suggest the castle, and the setting does not closely match. David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan have suggested ‘Bona Ferry at the head of Loch Ness’ as a possible identification,2 presumably based on a reading of the inscription. There is a small lighthouse at Bona Narrows, meaning that this could be a view north towards the narrows with shipping and the lighthouse at the left. If so, however, the sketches are only a rough approximation of the lighthouse as they do not closely resemble it.
With the sketchbook inverted is a view along the loch. This is probably a view south from towards the head of the loch. Above is a shaded shape which may represent clouds, though it could be a separate sketch of one of the shores of Loch Ness.

Thomas Ardill
April 2010

Finberg 1909, II, p.881.
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner’s 1831 Sketchbook T.B. CCLXXVI Fort Augustus’, [circa 1992–3], Tate catalogue files, [unpaginated].

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