Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of Shipping at Leith; and the Firth of Forth Near Barnbougle


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 187 × 114 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CC 52

Catalogue entry

With the sketchbook turned to the left, this page has been used for numerous sketches of shipping and the coastline of the Firth of Forth.
Two sketches at the top left and second-from-top right apparently show the coastline around Barnbougle Castle as in folios 34 verso to 35, and 53 (D17561–D17562 and D17597). One inscription refers to ‘Port [?]Edgar and Barnbougle’ while two others label the triangular hill ‘Ben Lomond’ which Turner could apparently see from over fifty miles away to the east. The inscription which may read ‘Walking to the church for [...]’, remains obscure.
The sketch at the very top right of the page may show part of the royal barge judging by the ornate prow of the vessel, and the inscriptions, ‘green like last’, which matches notes on the vessel made elsewhere in this sketchbook (see folio 58 verso; D17608).
Beneath this is a sketch of a single sailed vessel with two or so crew, followed by four sketches of vessels around Leith harbour. The upper most of the four sketches is the most easily identifiable with a ship passing between Leith’s Martello tower and the Signal House, an area that has now become more docks. The Signal House may be present at the right of the other three sketches which each include a number of sailing vessels indicated with the most minimal of pencil marks. The bottom sketch shows two vessels with their crews and the coastline behind.

Thomas Ardill
September 2008

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