Joseph Mallord William Turner

Seacliff House


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 9

Catalogue entry

Rather than Tantallon Castle, as Finberg labelled this double-page view (continued on folio 9 verso; D13600; CLXVII 8c), this may be Seacliff House, built in 1750, just a few hundred metres east of Tantallon Castle along the East Lothian coast. Difficulties in identifying the house arise from its being rebuilt in 1841, and then gutted by fire in 1907. However, distinctive features in this sketch and another on folio 7 (D13596; CLXVII 7) still remain, namely the crow-stepped gable of the seaward side of the building with a cylindrical turret at the corner; features absent from Tantallon Castle.
Turner would have seen this view of the house by turning around to face the opposite direction from where he stood to sketch Tantallon Castle and Bass Rock on folios 8 verso–9 (D13598–D13599; CLXVII 8a–8b). The house stands near the cliff edge, below which is Seacliff beach, and faces north towards the Bass Rock. There is a view of Bass Rock from the beach on folio 8 (D13597; CLXVII 8) which looks up to the house from beneath.

Thomas Ardill
February 2008

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