Joseph Mallord William Turner

Smailholm Tower


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 113 × 185 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXVII 85

Catalogue entry

This view of Smailholm Tower from the east, made with the sketchbook inverted, was taken from the path just to the south of the nearby millpond, which can be seen at the right of the sketch. The very moment that Turner has depicted was written about by one of the figures in the sketch, Robert Cadell. He accompanied Turner on his visit to the tower on 6 August 1831 along with Sir Walter Scott, and wrote in his Abbotsford Diary:
We reached Smallholm about 2 o'clock. The horses we put up at the [Sandyknowe] Farm stables – & we journeyed to the Tower. I had some long cracks with Sir Walter as he learnt on my arm while Mr Turner made his sketches.1
Cadell appears in the centre of the image, supporting Scott on his left who wears white.2 To their left, standing a little way off, is Scott’s servant James, who was also part of the party, and carries a satchel over his shoulder, perhaps containing the picnic lunch that they had shortly afterwards, according to Cadell’s account.3
At the top left of the page is the continuation of the sketch on folio 82 verso (D26077, CCLXVII 84 verso). Also see that entry for further information about Turner’s visits to and sketches of Smailholm Tower.

Thomas Ardill
September 2009

Robert Cadell, ‘Abbotsford Diary’, 6 August 1831, folio 106 verso, National Library of Scotland, MS Acc. 5188, Box 1; quoted in Finley 1972, p.380.
Scott is also distinguished by his white suit in The 'Presentation' Smailholm Tower and Sandyknowe Farm circa 1831–2; watercolour, Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery.
Robert Cadell, ‘Abbotsford Diary’, 6 August 1831; Finley 1972, p.380.

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