Joseph Mallord William Turner

Ruined Castle on Hill, ?Craignethan Castle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 190 × 113 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXIX 20

Catalogue entry

Although the three sketches of a ruined castle on a hill, along with further sketches on folio 20 verso (D26298), are most likely to depict Craignethan Castle near Crossford in Lanarkshire, there is also, as David Wallace-Hadrill has pointed out, a possibility that they could depict the nearby Cadzow Castle, which Turner is likely to have passed quite close to on his journey to Bothwell Castle after visiting Craignethan and Douglas.1
Both castles stand on the edge of high banks overlooking twisting rivers. The distance of the ruins in this sketch and the fact that they are half hidden by trees makes identification difficult. Cadzow Castle is particularly difficult to identify as it is now very hidden by trees, has fallen in to ruin and has, for several years, been further hidden by the measures taken to protect it from further disintegration; there are also very few historic images of the castle. The general shape of the ruins, their position on the hill and the shape of the river beneath are all consistent with a view of Cadzow from the east. The castle also has a connection to Sir Walter Scott, whose work Turner had been commissioned to illustrate, and with Queen Mary, in whose journeys around Scotland Turner seems to have taken an interest (see folio 17 verso; D26292). However, as Wallace-Hadrill has pointed out, if Turner passed Cadzow Castle it is very strange that he did not take the opportunity to also sketch Chatelherault Country Park, which is directly opposite.
Craignethan therefore seems like a more likely suggestion. On this assumption the view must be from the south so that we are looking over a bend in the River Nethan. The view is similar to a sketch on folio 19 verso (D26296) where the clump of trees to the right of the castle is shown again.
Turner’s inscription near the bottom of the page has unfortunately not been deciphered clearly.

Thomas Ardill
October 2010

David Wallace-Hadrill, [CCLXIX Checklist], [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, unpaginated MS.

Read full Catalogue entry


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