Joseph Mallord William Turner

Sound of Mull: Aros Castle and Salen


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 116 × 186 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CCLXXIII 50 a

Catalogue entry

These sketches of the ‘Sound of Mull’ were made as Turner returned down the Sound after having visiting Skye and Staffa. On his outward journey to Skye from Oban he had made sketches in the Sound of Mull no.1 (Tate D26936–D26948; D26950–D26954; D41019–D41020 complete; Turner Bequest CCLXXIV) and Sound of no.2 (Tate D26955–D26965; D41021–D41022 complete; Turner Bequest CCLXXV) sketchbooks. The return is recorded over folios 48–57 verso (D26833–D26852).
At the top of the page is a view looking south across the Sound to the shore of ‘Mull’, with the peak of ‘Ben Mor’ at the centre and Salen Bay (inscribed ‘Sale’) in the foreground. There are further sketches of Salen, sometimes with Ben Mor, on folios 49 and 49 verso (D26836, D26837).
At the centre of the page is a sketch of Aros Castle inscribed ‘aros’. The view is from the south near Salen, and looks up the sound to where the castle sits on a headland with Aros ‘Bridge’ just visible to the left. Aros Bridge was one of the subjects that William Daniell engraved for A Voyage Round Great Britain (1814–25): Distant View of Cruachan-ben, taken near Arros Bridge, Isle of Mull (aquatint, Tate T2808), and it is perhaps the memory of this engraving that prompted Turner to include the little bridge and label its presence. There are further sketches of Aros Castle on folios 49 verso and 50 (D26838). Turner had also sketched the castle on his outward journey up the Sound of Mull (Tate D26954; Turner Bequest CCLXXIV 10a).
The third sketch at the bottom of this page, inscribed ‘1 2 3 4 Sound of Mull’ shows a view of the coast of Mull with Ben Mor at the right above the village of Salen. The inscribed numbers may have been a way for Turner to match up sketches on different pages, as three hills in a sketch on folio 49 (D 26836) are inscribed ‘5’, ‘3’ and ‘1’, and hills on folio 51 (D26840) are inscribed ‘1’ and ‘3’.

Thomas Ardill
March 2010

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