Joseph Mallord William Turner

Shipping at Leith


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 187 × 114 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CC 70 a

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned to the right are three sketches of shipping at Leith Roads. Although Turner has employed highly economic shorthand it is possible to make out certain topographical features behind the dozens of masts and spars.
In the centre of the top sketch are the outlines of Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill, familiar from sketches such as folio 11 (D17528). Beneath this, step-shapes in the background represent Edinburgh Castle and a small dark shape near the water is labelled ‘Leith Martello’ tower, another feature familiar from various other drawings in this sketchbook (for example folio 53 verso; D17598). These features suggest that the second sketch in fact continues from the right side of the top sketch, suggesting in turn that the bottom sketch is a continuation from the middle one and therefore looks towards Granton Harbour.

Thomas Ardill
September 2008

Read full Catalogue entry

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