Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of North Berwick Law, Dirleton Castle, and the Islands of Fidra, May, Bass Rock and Craigleith

1822

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

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Artist
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Medium
Graphite on paper
Dimensions
Support: 187 × 114 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
D17521
Turner Bequest CC 7 a

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned to the right are six sketches of islands and the coast near North Berwick. The top sketch includes the distinctive conical-shaped outline of North Berwick Law. Seen from the sea to the north (Turner was travelling to Edinburgh by boat, see folio 1 verso; D17509) the island of Craigleith appears in the foreground to its left.
The second and sixth sketches have been identified from the inscriptions as depicting Dirleton Castle, a medieval fortress sitting on an outcrop about two miles south-west of North Berwick. The second sketch, labelled ‘Dirl’, shows the view of the castle from a point off the coast due north.
The third sketch shows the island of Fidra (two miles west of North Berwick and two north of Dirleton) as seen from the north, with the rocks of Longskelly Point, just off Yellow Craig, to the left. Turning to the left for his next sketch, Turner drew the three islands of ‘May’ (at the left), ‘Bass’ Rock and Craigleith in the foreground, including a sailing vessel skirting the inside of the island to the right. The same boat may appear several times on folio 8 (D17522).
The next sketch, the second to bottom, is again of Fidra though seen from closer to, and the bottom of the page is a final view of the island with ‘Dirleton’ Castle in the background to the left.
Sketches of the islands and coast near North Berwick continue on folio 8.

Thomas Ardill
August 2008

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