Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches from the Head of Loch Scavaig; and Broadford Bay


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 125 × 201 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXX 70

Catalogue entry

After Turner’s visit to Loch Coruisk (folio 39; D26512) to make sketches in preparation for his watercolour, Loch Coriskin 1831 (The National Gallery of Scotland),1 he took a boat from the Scavaig River to Camasunary Bay at the north-east corner of Loch Scavaig, where he stopped briefly to make sketches of the loch (folio 69; D26572).2 An inscription on the present page reads ‘Camasunary Bay’, which can be seen at the right of the top sketch, suggesting that the sketches on this page were made just after leaving the bay on the way back to Elgol.
The top sketch depicts a view looking back to the head of the loch with the Cuillin Mountains: Gars-bheinn at the left with rain falling on it, Sgurr na Stri at the centre with clouds above and the western slope of Bla Bheinn at the right, below which is the bay. At the far left is the island of Soay with the sun above and its reflection to the right, and to the right of that is an inscription that may refer to Loch nan Leachd, which lies between the two mountains.
The sketch at the centre of the page was made from the same location, but now looks south down Loch Scavaig to the island of ‘Rum’ with Soay (inscribed ‘Soa’) at the right and the Strathaird coast to the left. This sketch is labelled ‘4’ at the left, while the sketch above is numbered ‘3’ at the right. Sketches 1 and 2 may be those on folio 69 that show similar views and were made shortly before, though they are not numbered.
Further sketches of Loch Scavaig are on folios 37 verso, 38, 73 and 78 verso–79 (D26509, D26510, D26580, D26591–D26592).
At the bottom of the page is a sketch with an inscription telling us it is Broadford Bay. The view is from the east of the bay, and looks along the coast with a series of box-like houses at the left and the hill Beinn na Caillich beyond. To the left Turner has labelled the island of Scalpay (‘Scalpa’) and the smaller island of Pabay (‘Pabba’). Turner made a similar sketch on folio 12 (D26458); see folio 12 for references to further sketches of Broadford Bay.

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.429 no.1088.
Identified by David Wallace–Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on the Isle of Skye 1831’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folios 19–20].
Turner’s spelling of the islands Scalpay, Longay and Pabay as ‘Scalpa’, ‘Longa’ and ‘Pabba’ are consistent with how they are written in the Steamboat Companion, the book that is likely to have been his guide around the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland. (James Lumsden and Son, Lumsden and Son’s Steamboat Companion; or Stranger’s Guide to the Western Isles and Highlands of Scotland, Glasgow 1839, p.157).

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