Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sir Walter Scott’s Study at Abbotsford


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 66 a

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook inverted is a sketch of Sir Walter Scott’s study at Abbotsford. The view is from the doorway to the entrance hall at the west side of the study. Although Turner’s sketch is quite rough, it is possible to identify parts of it thanks to a highly wrought drawing of the study from the same angle by William Allan, made just a year later (National Gallery of Scotland, 1832).1
At the centre of the room is Scott’s desk, a writing table designed by Gillow,2 probably with a chair in front of it and another chair to the left. These are presumably the two chairs shown in Allan’s picture and illustrated in Wainwright’s book.3 Behind the desk in Allan’s picture is a large court cupboard, and this may also be suggested in Turner’s sketch. Above this Turner has indicated the railings of the gallery that runs around three sides of the room. At the right of the room, on top of another cupboard in Allan and Turner’s sketches, is a bust.
Turner made a number of sketches of the interior and exterior of Abbotsford. (See folio 62 verso for references; D26037; CCLXVII 64a).

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Clive Wainwright, The Romantic Interior: the British Collector at Home, 1750–1850, London 1989, p.195 reproduced pl.162 [reproduced upside down].
Ibid., pp.193, 197.
Ibid., pp.197–198.

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