Joseph Mallord William Turner

St George’s Church and Bank of Scotland, Edinburgh; and Other Sketches


Not on display

Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Graphite on paper
Support: 90 × 112 mm
Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Turner Bequest CLXVI 39 a

Catalogue entry

The sketch on this page incongruously shows several metropolitan buildings within an open landscape with hills beyond. Notes by David Wallace-Hadrill and Janet Carolan suggest the ‘West Registry’(or West Register House), on Charlotte Street in Edinburgh, in 1818 still St George’s Church, and the ‘Royal Bank of Scotland’ head office in St Andrew’s Square.1 The two buildings certainly match the drawings, with the large three levelled rectangular façade of the Bank of Scotland broken in the middle by a triangular pediment, and St George’s egg-shaped dome (see folio 54; D13555), which are only about half a mile apart. However, they are both situated in the heart of Edinburgh New Town, yet no other buildings are shown in this sketch. If the identification of these two buildings is correct, then the landscape must be a separate drawing made of the same part of the page. It may show distant mountains seen from near Edinburgh. The landscape sketch continues onto folio 40 (D13527), and there is another faint sketch of mountains at the top of this page.
The bottom of the page is divided into two thumbnail sketches, although the one on the left is merely a few hesitant lines that may be the beginnings of a castle in a landscape. The sketch on the right, again quite slight and rough, shows a single arched bridge which crosses a river or ditch with three tiny figures approaching. This may be the bridge to the gatehouse of Roslin Castle, depicted from the other side on folio 27 (D13501). Opposite this page on folio 40 is a drawing of Roslin Castle which extends slightly to this page at the top right.

Thomas Ardill
December 2007

David Wallace-Hadrill, unpublished notes, [circa 1989–94], Tate catalogue files.

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