Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of Loch Linnhe and Lynn of Lorn with Tirefour Castle


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Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 186 × 116 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 39 a

Catalogue entry

This page of six sketches of Loch Linnhe (most of which continue slightly onto folio 40; D26817) records the beginning of the leg of Turner’s tour that took him from Oban (see folio 59; D26856) on the west coast of Argyll to Inverness. The journey took him up Loch Linnhe to Ballachulish (folio 2; D26750), from where he made a return trip to Glencoe, and then on to Fort William (folio 8 verso; D26760) where he continued by boat up the Caledonian Canal via Fort Augustus and Loch Ness to Inverness: see the Fort Augustus (Tate D26966–D27045 complete; Turner Bequest CCLXXVI) and Inverness (Tate D27046–D27225; D41038–D41039 complete; Turner Bequest CCLXXVII) sketchbooks. This part of the journey up Loch Linnhe to Ballachulish is recorded on folios 1 and 37 verso–39 verso (D26748, D26812–D26816) in roughly reverse order.
Turner started sketching near the bottom of the page with a view of a building on a coastline with distant hills. David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan have suggested that this may be a sketch of Dunstaffnage Castle which sits at the mouth of Loch Etive, with the peak of Ben Cruachan in the distance.1 Turner had made a number of sketches of the castle when he passed it on an earlier leg of his tour (see folio 89; D26916). Although there is little to go on in the depiction of the building, the outline of the mountain is recognisable from other sketches (e.g. top of folio 56 verso; D26851).
After Turner’s boat had entered the Lynn of Lorn between the island of Lismore and the mainland he made the next two sketches on the page. The fourth sketch from the top, inscribed ‘Isle Terefour’ and continuing on folio 40, probably represents the small island of Eilean Dubh to the east of Lismore near Tirefour Castle, with Lismore is in the background. Eilean Dubh is shown again in the sketch beneath which also shows ‘Tirefour cas[tle]’ on Lismore behind the island to the right.
The second and third sketches from the top of the page looks north up the Lynn of Lorn to where it narrows at the shore of Appin. The dark shape at the centre of each sketch may be Shuna Island. Castle Stalker may be depicted to the far right on the second sketch and on the third sketch on folio 40, where it stands on one of the rocks at the entrance to Loch Laich. At the top of the page is a sketch of a castle with mountains in the background. The mountains are too high and pointed to be those to the east of Castle Stalker, so perhaps this is Dunstaffnage again with Ben Cruachan in the distance.

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner’s Journey from Oban to Inverness, 1831’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folios 1, 15].

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