Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of Loch Skavaig from North of Elgol; and the Continuation of a View of Askaig, Islay


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 201 × 125 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXX 38

Catalogue entry

There are six sketches on this page, most of which were made from the eastern shore of Loch Scavaig to the north of Elgol on Skye. However, the first sketch to be made at the head of the page is a view, continued from folio 37 verso (D26509), of Port Askaig on Islay and across the Sound of Islay to Jura. This half of the sketch shows Jura with the distinctive peaks known as the Paps. Turner drew this feature a number of times in this sketchbook.
The other sketches on the page are all of Loch Scavaig. The second sketch down may be the head of the loch as seen from near Elgol.1 The third (inscribed with an unidentified note by Turner) has not been identified, but may be a view from the same place. The fourth and fifth sketches (the latter inverted) are of the islands of Rum (left) and Soay, inscribed ‘Soa’ in the fifth sketch and seen from Elgol or nearby. In the fourth sketch the sun is low over the water in the west, telling us that it must have been made near sunset. This suggests that Turner spent the night at Elgol, perhaps after visiting Loch Coruisk (see folio 69; D26572).
At the bottom of the page, inverted and continued at the right on folio 37 verso, is a sketch of the head of the loch as seen from a point at the north-east around Camasunary Bay. Two mountains are shown on this half of the sketch: Gars-bheinn at the left, and Sgurr na Stri at the right. Between them, hidden from view, lie Loch na Cuile and Loch nan Leachd, and the Scavaig River which is the outlet from Loch Coruisk. Turner’s interest in the loch, which was to be painted to illustrate Sir Walter Scott’s Lord of the IslesLoch Coriskin 1831 (The National Gallery of Scotland) –2 led him to inscribe the word ‘Coruisk’ beneath this sketch. There is a sketch of the entrance to the loch via the River Scavaig on folio 37 verso, perhaps made from the landing place at Loch na Cuilce. See also folios 34, 67 verso, 69, 70, 72a, 73, and 78 verso–79 (D26502, D26569, D26572, D26573, D26579, D26580, D26591–D26592) for further sketches of the head of Loch Skavaig.

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

David Wallace–Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner on the Isle of Skye 1831’, [circa 1991], Tate catalogue files, [folio 16].
Andrew Wilton, J.M.W. Turner: His Life and Work, Fribourg 1979, p.429 no.1088.

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