Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sketches of the Voyage from West Tarbert to Islay; and Finlaggan Castle, Islay


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 201 x 125 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXX 83 a

Catalogue entry

Turner has inscribed the five numbered sketches on this page, ‘V[oyage] from Tarbert to Islay’, a journey that he must have made on the Maid of Islay No.2 steamboat, which operated a service between West Loch Tarbert on Kintyre and Port Askaig on Islay.1 Sketches on folio 73 verso (D26581) were also made from the steamboat on this leg of the journey. The five sketches of coastlines and islands on the present page are fairly indistinctive, lacking the landmarks that would help to provide a definite identification. Even so, David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan have suggested what the first four views may show.2
The top two sketches, numbered ‘1’ and ‘2’ are of West Loch Tarbert, and ‘3’, they suggest, is the Isle of Gigha as seen from West Loch Tarbert to the east. This would mean that Gigha is at the right, with the shore of the Kintyre peninsula at the left and Cara Island in between.
There is a castle in the forth sketch which the authors have identified as Clarg Castle on Am Fraoch Eilean, just off the coast of Jura at the entrance of the Sound of Islay. To the right of the castle is Breinn Chaolais, the southernmost peak of the Paps of Jura. The peaks appear in a number of sketches in this book (see folio 74; D26582). Turner made further sketches of Gigha and Islay on folio 73 verso (D26581).
The final sketch was presumably made as Turner got a little closer to Port Askaig, and may show the view north along the shore of Islay, with the peaks of Sgarbh Breac at the centre near Turner’s ‘5’, with the mouth of Port Askaig at the right. There are views of Port Askaig from the Sound of Islay on folios 75 verso and 86 verso (D16585; D26606).
Landing at Port Askaig (see folio 37 verso; D26509), Turner made his way to Finlaggan, using the space at the bottom of the page for a view of Finlaggan Castle from the west. The castle sits on the island of Eilean Mòr at the north of Loch Finlaggan. In front of the castle are a row of farm buildings, see more clearly in the sketch on folio 62 verso.

Thomas Ardill
January 2010

David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan, ‘Turner Round the Clyde and in Islay – 1831’, 1991, Tate catalogue files, folio 6.

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