Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of Dumbarton Castle

1831

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 158 x 101 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D41131

Catalogue entry

The five sketches on the inside front cover of this sketchbook, along with several sketches on folio 1 (D26619), have been identified as Dumbarton Castle on Dumbarton Rock, some of which were apparently made from the rock itself.1 At the top of the page is a rough sketch that may represent part of the ramparts at the northern side, including the French Prison building. Beneath that is a view of the rock from across the mouth of the River Leven to the west with the Governor’s House at the right. The third sketch down shows a building with chimneys at either end, which could be either the Governor’s House, or the French Prison. The second from bottom sketch shows the rock from the north-west, and at the bottom of the page is a sketch that probably shows the Governor’s House with the ‘Beak’ (eastern summit of Dumbarton Rock) behind it.
These studies were likely to have been made during Turner’s tour of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, which Turner embarked upon around 18 August 1831, setting off in a steamboat from Bowling, just down the River Clyde from Dumbarton. There are further sketches of the rock on folios 1, 1 verso, 2 verso, 19 verso and 20 of this sketchbook (D26619, D26620, D26622, D26656, D26657), and in the Stirling and the West sketchbook (Tate D26568, D26577, D26578, D26598; Turner Bequest CCLXX 67, 71 verso, 72, 82 verso).2 The sketch of Dumbarton Bridge on folio 2 (D26621) contributed towards Turner’s watercolour of Dumbarton Castle and River Leven circa 1833 (whereabouts unknown),3 prepared as an illustration to an edition of Sir Walter Scott’s Prose Works.

Thomas Ardill
October 2009

1
David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner Round the Clyde and in Islay – 1831’, 1991, Tate catalogue files, folio 7.
2
Ibid., folios 1–2.
3
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.430 no.1095.

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